Forty-five studies of regional cerebral blood volume (rCBV), regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF), and regional cerebral oxygen utilization (rCMRO2) were performed in 30 patients undergoing diagnostic cerebral angiography for evaluation of a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to a ruptured intracranial aneurysm. Tracer methods employing radioactive oxygen-15 were used to measure rCBV, rCBF, and rCMRO2. The patient studies were divided into groups based on their neurological status and the presence or absence of cerebral vasospasm. Subarachnoid hemorrhage, with and without vasospasm, produced significant decreases in CBF and CMRO2. In general, patients with more severe neurological deficits, and patients with more severe degrees of vasospasm, had a more marked depression of CBF and CMRO2. The most striking finding was a significant (p less than 0.001) increase in CBV (to 58% above normal) in patients with severe neurological deficits associated with severe cerebral vasospasm. This large increase suggests that cerebral vasospasm consists of constriction of the large, radiographically visible extraparenchymal vessels accompained by a massive dilation of intraparenchymal vessels.