This long-term follow-up study of 54 patients clarifies the angiographic predictors of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) and clinical outcome in individuals with unoperated intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulae (AVF's). All of these patients were examined at the Mayo Clinic between 1976 and 1989, and all available cerebral arteriograms were reviewed by a neuroradiologist. Follow-up information was obtained for 52 patients (96%) until death or treatment intervention, or for at least 1 year after diagnosis, with a mean follow-up period of 6.6 years. Throughout this 6.6-year follow-up period, ICH related to dural AVF occurred in five of the 52 patients, for a crude risk of hemorrhage of 1.6% per year. The risk of hemorrhage at the time of mean follow-up examination was 1.8% per year. Angiographic examination revealed several characteristics that were considered potential predictors of ICH during the follow-up period. Lesions of the petrosal sinus and straight sinus had a higher propensity to bleed, although the small numbers in the series precluded a definite conclusion. A person suffering from a dural AVF with a venous varix on a draining vein had an increased risk of hemorrhage, whereas no hemorrhage was seen in the 20 patients without a varix (p < 0.05). Lesions draining into leptomeningeal veins had an increased occurrence of hemorrhage, although this increased risk was not statistically significant. Patients' initial symptoms were compared to those at follow-up evaluation. Pulsatile tinnitus improved in more than half of the 52 patients, and resolved in 75% of those showing some improvement. Individuals without a sinus or venous outflow occlusion at initial cerebral angiography were more likely to improve or remain stable (89%), whereas patients with an occlusion showed infrequent improvement (11%; p < 0.05).