The suspicion of an abnormality of the central nervous (CNS) system raises difficult questions for the clinician and the family and will inevitably lead to considerable anxiety. These questions include what it means for the child's future, whether it can be treated and whether it will happen again in subsequent pregnancies. For many disorders accurate prenatal diagnosis remains elusive, as even with fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), early recognition and characterisation are simply not possible because of the immature state of brain development at that stage of pregnancy. The natural history of many prenatally diagnosed CNS disorders remains to be elucidated which means that an accurate prognosis cannot be given in all cases. We review the current state of knowledge regarding the investigation, management and prognosis of the most common and important CNS malformations. We also discuss the post-natal management of these conditions both in the neonate and subsequent pregnancies for the families.