We investigated the factors that determine the nature and extent of abnormal head postures in patients with congenital nystagmus. The head positions and eye movements of 16 patients were monitored while they adopted a variety of gaze positions. Five patients displayed a single head posture and four displayed multiple head postures. Six of the nine head postures matched the minimum intensity zone. The extent of the head posture was also found to be dictated by the velocity distribution of the slow phase, the nystagmus beat direction, and the neutral zone. Our results suggest that the surgical management of a head posture should not always be based only on the relocation of the minimum intensity zone to the primary gaze position.