Increasing evidence suggests that induction of mild hypothermia (32-35 degrees C) in the first hours after an ischaemic event can prevent or mitigate permanent injuries. This effect has been shown most clearly for postanoxic brain injury, but could also apply to other organs such as the heart and kidneys. Hypothermia has also been used as a treatment for traumatic brain injury, stroke, hepatic encephalopathy, myocardial infarction, and other indications. Hypothermia is a highly promising treatment in neurocritical care; thus, physicians caring for patients with neurological injuries, both in and outside the intensive care unit, are likely to be confronted with questions about temperature management more frequently. This Review discusses the available evidence for use of controlled hypothermia, and also deals with fever control. Besides discussing the evidence, the aim is to provide information to help guide treatments more effectively with regard to timing, depth, duration, and effective management of side-effects. In particular, the rate of rewarming seems to be an important factor in establishing successful use of hypothermia in the treatment of neurological injuries.