A prospective series of 30 patients with a single, angiographically verified aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) was studied for the effect of intrathecal thrombolytic therapy with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) on outcome, angiographic vasospasm, and computerized tomography (CT) findings after surgery. The patients included fulfilled the following criteria: operation was performed by Day 3 after the hemorrhage, CT showed only blood in the basal cisterns, and the patient had a single aneurysm or multiple aneurysms that could be treated surgically at the same operation. The patients were divided into groups of 10, with patients receiving 3, 10, or 13 mg of rt-PA in a single intracisternal injection at the end of the operation. There were no differences between the treatment groups in overall outcome. One patient from the 3-mg rt-PA group developed a postoperative intracerebral hemorrhage, and one patient from the 10-mg rt-PA group had a postoperative epidural hematoma. There was one death in the 13-mg rt-PA group that was caused by inclusion of a segment of pericallosal artery in the clip. In all treatment groups a reduction was observed in the amount of blood seen on the postoperative CT scans compared to the preoperative CT scans. The reduction in SAH grade between the 10-mg and 13-mg rt-PA groups was significant (p less than 0.05). The difference in the severity of angiographic vasospasm between the 3-mg and 13-mg rt-PA groups was also significant (p less than 0.05).