A consecutive series of 330 severely head-injured patients was studied prospectively. All of the patients were treated with the same protocols by the same physicians and staff in the same intensive care unit. All of the patients had intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring. Of the 330 patients, 100 were in the pediatric age group (0 to 19 years of age) and 230 were in the adult group (20 to 80 years of age). Statistical analyses were performed with regard to outcome, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, ICP course, and incidence of surgical lesions. The average emergency room GCS score as well as the 24-hour GCS score for each group was the same. The percentage of patients having ICP that was normal, increased but reducible, and increased but not reducible in each group was the same. The pediatric patients had a significantly higher percentage of good outcomes (43%) than the adult patients (28%) (p less than 0.01). They also had a significantly lower mortality rate (24%) than the adult patients (45%) (p less than 0.01). At 1 year following injury, 55% of pediatric patients had a good outcome compared to 21% of adults (p less than 0.001); this trend was evident at 3 months, with the same p value. Pediatric patients with normal ICP had a higher percentage of good outcomes (70%) than the adult patients with normal ICP (48%) (p less than 0.05). There was no significant difference in outcome in pediatric and adult patients with mass lesions or with increased ICP, regardless of whether or not the pressure was reducible. There was a much higher incidence of surgical mass lesions in adult patients (46%) than in pediatric patients (24%) (p less than 0.001).