Vascular malformations of the brain stem are unusual lesions that may pose a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Seven patients with vascular malformations involving the brain stem were evaluated; six were treated surgically, with complete obliteration of the lesion in five patients. In five patients symptoms developed only after a hemorrhage had occurred, and three of these suffered a rebleed before appropriate treatment was given. Angiography failed to demonstrate lesions in three cases, which did not appear to protect from repeat hemorrhage since two of the three rebled. There were no operative deaths, and no patients were made permanently worse after surgery. Useful recovery occurred commonly after appropriate treatment and appeared to be possible even in patients who had suffered a catastrophic neurological deficit at the time of presentation. These data indicate that surgical removal of the lesion may be warranted in some patients with symptomatic brain-stem vascular malformation.