In this report the authors describe a noninvasive transcranial method of determining the flow velocities in the basal cerebral arteries. Placement of the probe of a range-gated ultrasound Doppler instrument in the temporal area just above the zygomatic arch allowed the velocities in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) to be determined from the Doppler signals. The flow velocities in the proximal anterior (ACA) and posterior (PCA) cerebral arteries were also recorded at steady state and during test compression of the common carotid arteries. An investigation of 50 healthy subjects by this transcranial Doppler method revealed that the velocity in the MCA, ACA, and PCA was 62 +/- 12, 51 +/0 12, and 44 +/- 11 cm/sec, respectively. This method is of particular value for the detection of vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage and for evaluating the cerebral circulation in occlusive disease of the carotid and vertebral arteries.