The objective was to describe the clinical features and management of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in non-selected centres. An observational study in 11 neurological departments in NW Italy was carried out from 1995 through 1999 on 38 female and 10 male patients. Mean age: 44.8 years, SD=14.3. Onset: acute in 21 patients (44%), subacute in 17 (35%) and chronic in 10 (21%). Most frequent onset: with focal deficits and/or seizures, followed by impaired consciousness or confusion, isolated headache, isolated intracranial hypertension and cavernous syndrome. No risk factor was found in 8 patients (17%). The superior sagittal sinus was involved in 27 patients (56%) and the transverse sinus in 29 (60%). Anticoagulants were used in 45 patients (94%). Rankin Scale score at discharge: 0 (27 patients), 1 (four), 2 (five), 3 (five), 4 (none), 5 (one) and six were dead. Thirteen patients had deep CVT: age, risk factors, neurological signs and outcome differed from cortical CVT (35 patients), although not significantly. Clinical features, risk factors and outcome of CVT patients from non-selected centres are similar to those from specialised centres.