Tirilazad mesylate, a nonglucocorticoid 21-aminosteroid, has been shown in experimental models to reduce vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and to reduce infarct size from focal cerebral ischemia. To test whether treatment with tirilazad would reduce ischemic symptoms from vasospasm and improve overall outcome in patients with ruptured aneurysms, a prospective randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial was conducted at 41 neurosurgical centers in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. One thousand twenty-three patients were randomly assigned to receive 0.6, 2, or 6 mg/kg per day of intravenously administered tirilazad or a placebo containing the citrate vehicle. All patients were also treated with intravenously administered nimodipine. Patients receiving 6 mg/kg per day of tirilazad had reduced mortality (p = 0.01) and a greater frequency of good recovery on the Glasgow Outcome Scale 3 months after SAH (p = 0.01) than similar patients treated with vehicle. There was a reduction in symptomatic vasospasm in the group that received 6 mg/kg per day tirilazad; however, the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.048). The benefits of treatment with tirilazad were predominantly shown in men rather than in women. There were no material differences between the outcomes in the groups treated with 0.6 and 2 mg/kg tirilazad per day and the group treated with vehicle. Tirilazad was well tolerated at all three dose levels. These observations suggest that tirilazad mesylate, at a dosage of 6 mg/kg per day, is safe and improves overall outcome in patients (especially in men) who have experienced an aneurysmal SAH.