Although computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging scans often appear normal after mild head trauma, many patients experience attentional or other cognitive disturbances that are difficult to quantify by neuropsychological testing in the absence of a premorbid profile. Within 2 days of mild head trauma, 14 patients with normal-appearing brain CTs were studied with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). They were compared to 15 normal control subjects and to 12 patients with mild human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) encephalopathy. Ten of 14 head trauma patients were separated from the normal control subjects by both independent readers, blinded to the clinical diagnosis. None of the SPECT results from normal control subjects were "read" as trauma. Trauma could not be differentiated from HIV encephalopathy. The observed percentage agreement between raters was 0.83 (kappa = 0.72). SPECT is more sensitive than CT in detecting brain injury after mild head trauma.