In this study the authors have examined the effects of transluminal angioplasty on cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the management of intractable vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Fourteen consecutively enrolled patients underwent attempted angioplasty with or without intraarterial infusion of papaverine. Twelve patients underwent pre- and postangioplasty xenon-enhanced computerized tomography (Xe-CT) scanning to measure regional CBF in 55 to 65 regions of interest (ROIs) per patient. Angioplasty was possible in 13 (93%) of 14 patients, with angiographically demonstrated improvement in all 13. Twelve (92%) of the 13 patients were neurologically improved following angioplasty; seven (58%) of the 12 patients who improved had a complete reversal of all delayed ischemic deficits. Angioplasty significantly decreased the mean number of ROIs at risk (11.4 ROIs pre- and 0.9 ROIs postangioplasty) (p < 0.00005, t-test). All patients had a reduction in the number of ROIs at risk after angioplasty; six (50%) of 12 no longer had any ROIs remaining at risk after angioplasty. Angioplasty significantly increased the mean CBF within at-risk ROIs (13 ml/100 g/minute pre- and 44 ml/100 g/minute postangioplasty) (p < 0.00005, t-test). All patients experienced an improvement in mean CBF in at-risk ROIs after angioplasty, with the mean CBF improving to above 20 ml/100 g/minute in all cases. No differences in the degree of improvement were found in patients who received intraarterial papaverine compared with those who did not. In the majority of patients with refractory vasospasm following SAH, angioplasty effectively dilated spastic arteries, reversed delayed neurological deficits, and significantly improved CBF in areas of brain at risk of infarction.