A series of 53 patients was studied using a battery of tests and a neurobehavioral rating scale on average 4 months after closed-head injury (CHI). Social outcome was assessed 1 year after injury by interviewing a family member. The results supported the hypothesis that tests of flexibility and programming rather than tests of cognitive skills predict psychosocial recovery after CHI. Spatial Learning with Self-Set Goals and Sorting were measures of flexibility and programming. Contrary to expectation, word fluency performance was unrelated to these measures, but was associated with conventional intelligence tests, which did not predict psychosocial recovery. Cognition/Energy deficit on the Neurobehavioral Rating Scale and increased age were useful predictors of poor psychosocial outcome, whereas computed tomography findings or the Glasgow Coma Score were weakly related to the outcome indices. Evidently, cognitive flexibility and mental programming are very important psychological prerequisites of social recovery after CHI.