The authors studied intracranial pressure (ICP) and intracranial compliance as defined by the pressure-volume index (PVI) in 34 severely head-injured patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or less. The objective of the research was to determine if there was a correlation between the pressure-volume status and subsequent increase in ICP. The PVI and ICP measurements were obtained serially, and the temporal course of the pressure-volume status and ICP was determined during the 5-day period following injury. Aggressiveness of ICP was quantified by a therapy intensity level scale. A clear relationship between the PVI measured soon after injury and subsequent development of ICP emerged. Following mechanical trauma the PVI is reduced, and the degree of reduction and extent of biomechanical recovery are closely related to outcome and development of raised ICP.