A prospective study utilizing repeated intellectual testing was undertaken in 73 children with brain tumors consecutively admitted to Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles over a 3-year period to determine the effect of tumor location, extent of surgical resection, hydrocephalus, age of the child, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy on cognitive outcome. Forty-three patients were followed for at least two sequential intellectual assessments and provide the data for this study. Children with hemispheric tumors had the most general cognitive impairment. The degree of tumor resection, adequately treated hydrocephalus, and chemotherapy had no bearing on intellectual outcome. Age of the child affected outcome mainly as it related to radiation. Whole brain radiation therapy was associated with cognitive decline. This was especially true in children below 7 years of age, who experienced a very significant loss of function after whole brain radiation therapy.