Our purpose was to explore the utility of cine phase-contrast MRI velocity measurements in determining the functional status of third ventriculostomies, and to correlate the quantitative velocity data with clinical follow-up. We examined six patients with third ventriculostomies and 12 normal subjects by phase-contrast MRI. The maximum craniocaudal to maximum caudocranial velocity range was measured at regions of interest near the third ventricular floor, and in cerebrospinal fluid anterior to the upper pons and spinal cord on midline sagittal images. Ratios of the velocities of both the third ventricle and prepontine space to the space anterior to the spinal cord were obtained. The velocities near the third ventricular floor and in the pontine cistern were significantly higher in patients than in normal subjects, but the velocity anterior to the spinal cord was similar between the groups. The velocity ratios, used to normalize individual differences, were also higher in patients than in controls. Two patients had lower velocity ratios than their fellows at the third ventricular floor and in the pontine cistern; one required a shunt 11 months later, while in the other, who had a third ventricular/thalamic tumor, the lower values probably reflect distortion of the third ventricular floor. We conclude that phase-contrast MR velocity measurements, specifically the velocity ratio between the high pontine cistern and the space anterior to the spinal cord, can help determine the functional status of third ventriculostomies.