Seventy four consecutive patients diagnosed as normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and operated with a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt were followed prospectively for an average of 2.1 years. The mean age was 64 years. The effect of the operation was estimated by calculating 6 indices expression social functioning, neurological signs, gait ability, continence, psychometric performance and psychiatric condition. Ninety-six % had mental symptoms, 95% gait disturbances and 75% incontinence. Improvement was observed in 78% after shunt surgery, while 22% deteriorated. Psychiatric improvement was seen in 80% and 76% improved in gait ability. Improvement was highest in the group caused by subarachnoid hemorrhage (98%) while 73% with idiopathic NPH improved. Old age was not correlated to poorer response, while long-standing pre-operative symptoms yielded worse results. No single symptom or sign could predict a positive outcome of the operation. Eleven % of the patients could leave long-term care institutions and there was a 36% reduction of aid in daily living. Complications to shunt surgery were observed in 50% of the patients and shunt related mortality was 1%. Shunt malfunction was the most frequent complication (31%) followed by infection (19%). Epilepsy developed in 9% after surgery. All shunt complication except one appeared within the first year after surgery.