To determine the complication rate of cerebral angiography and to identify variables associated with angiograms positive for vasculitis, we retrospectively evaluated 125 consecutive patients who had angiography because of possible central nervous system (CNS) vasculitis. Sixteen of 125 (12.8%) had angiograms positive for CNS vasculitis. Fourteen (11.5%) experienced a transient and 1 (0.8%) had a persistent neurologic deficit due to angiography. The complication rates between patients who were angiogram positive and angiogram negative did not differ (p greater than 0.05). Two clinical variables were significant risk factors for having an angiogram positive for CNS vasculitis: a preexisting rheumatic disease diagnosis (relative odds 3.39, 95% CI 1.08-10.62, p less than 0.033) and an abnormal lumbar puncture (relative odds 5.50, 95% CI 1.13-26.64, p less than 0.031). We conclude that the risk of persistent neurologic complications from angiography is low in patients who have or are suspected of having CNS vasculitis.