The rate of head injury is 1.86-6 times higher for snowboarding than for skiing. Detailed data about the usefulness of a helmet or knit cap for protecting against serious head injuries have not been reported. The present study evaluated the use of a helmet or knit cap for preventing head injuries. Questionnaire data were collected from 1,190 consecutive patients in a hospital during the 1999/2000-2002/2003 winter seasons at Uonuma ski resort, Niigata, Japan. Patients were divided into the helmet, knit cap, and no cap groups. Upper technical level was highest and jumping as the cause of injury was most frequent in the helmet group. After adjustment for other confounders, there was a significant negative association between the occurrence of serious head injury during snowboarding and female sex (adjusted odds ratio 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.421-0.718, p < 0.0001) and a significant positive association between serious head injury and jumping (adjusted odds ratio 2.25, 95% confidence interval 1.48-3.43, p = 0.0001). Among snowboarding maneuvers, only jumping showed a significant negative association between wearing of a helmet or knit cap and the occurrence of serious head injury (p = 0.036). Snowboarders who wear helmets might attempt dangerous maneuvers causing injuries. Wearing of a helmet or knit cap protected against serious head injuries on jumping. Every snowboarder should wear a helmet or knit cap on jumping to prevent head injury.