Angiograms obtained prior to treatment in 53 cases of deep-seated cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) were retrospectively analyzed with particular attention to the topography of the AVM nidus and the venous drainage. The location of the lesion was determined by a combination of angiography and computerized tomography. Twenty-seven AVM's involved the basal ganglia and thalamus, 12 were located in the corpus callosum, six were intraventricular, and eight involved the mesencephalon and brain stem. Forty-one patients (77.3%) presented with intracranial hemorrhage. Vessel wall irregularities and/or stenosis of the system of the vein of Galen were observed in 14 cases, and occlusion of the deep venous system was present in seven cases. These AVM's showed numerous collateral venous pathways through enlarged medullary and cortical regional veins. There was dominant participation of the basal vein of Rosenthal in all cases. Unique local hemodynamic factors produced by the convergence of the draining veins of the AVM's into the vein of Galen and straight sinus may lead to a higher incidence of stenosis and/or occlusion of the venous drainage. The relatively high incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in these deep-seated AVM's may suggest a relationship between an increased incidence of intracranial bleeding and impaired venous outlets.