Four young adults with spontaneous dissection of the vertebrobasilar system are reported. Clinically, two patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage and two with brain-stem ischemia. In two cases of ruptured arterial dissection of the posterior cerebral artery, angiography demonstrated fusiform and "sausage-like" dilatation of the involved vessel. In two cases of occlusive dissection of the basilar artery, angiography revealed the typical "string sign." All four patients were treated conservatively: three survive in good clinical condition and one remains disabled. Follow-up angiograms showed spontaneous healing of the lesion with return to an almost normal arterial configuration in two cases; residual narrowing corresponding to the dissection was the most notable finding in the other two. It is recommended that, in a subset of neurologically stable patients, angiographic monitoring is undertaken to assess the tendency for spontaneous repair before surgical intervention is planned.