In an observational study in head-injured patients, cerebrovascular pressure transmission was investigated using a systems analysis approach whereby the blood pressure (BP) waveform was used as a measure of an input stimulus to the cerebrovascular bed (CVB) and the intracranial pressure (ICP) waveform as the response to that stimulus. The transfer function is a measure of how much pressure is transmitted through the CVB at a given frequency and is calculated using Fourier analysis of the pressure waveforms. The transfer function allows quantification of the pressure transmission performance of the CVB, thus providing a basis for comparison between normal and abnormal function. Fifteen hundred samples of ICP and BP waveforms were collected from 30 head-injured patients via microcomputer. Off-line spectral analysis of the waveform database revealed four main classes of transfer function: those with an overall flat transfer function (curve type 1); those with an elevated low-frequency response (curve type 2); those with an elevated high-frequency response (curve type 3); and those exhibiting both an elevated low- and high-frequency response (curve type 4). Curve types 2 and 4 were most often associated with raised ICP (greater than 20 mm Hg), whereas curve types 1 and 3 were most often affiliated with ICP less than 15 mm Hg. Studies of this type may provide insight into the pathophysiology of the CVB and ultimately aid in the prediction and treatment of raised ICP.