We evaluated the effect of intra-arterially infused papaverine solutions of various concentrations on cerebral vasospasm following subarachnoid haemorrhage. A total of 90 vascular territories in 46 patients with symptomatic cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid haemorrhage were treated with intra-arterial infusions of papaverine. In all patients, papaverine was infused at the top of the internal carotid artery (ICA). Of the 90 vascular territories, 30 vascular territories in 14 patients were treated with an infusion of 0.1-0.2% (weight/volume) papaverine (Group 1), 30 vascular territories in 16 patients were treated with a 0.4% (w/v) papaverine infusion (Group 2), and 30 vascular territories in 16 patients were treated with an infusion of 0.8-2.0% (w/v) papaverine (Group 3). Among the three groups, we compared the vasodilatory effects of papaverine by assessing the angiographical and clinical improvements following the treatment. When 0.4% (w/v) papaverine was infused, 24 vascular territories (80%) were successfully dilated and 7 patients (44%) showed a marked reversal of neurological deficits due to vasospasm. Therefore, 80 mg/20 ml (0.4% (w/v)) papaverine infused over a 10-minute period proved to be a beneficial concentration. Transient focal neurological deficits due to the infusion of papaverine occurred in 1 Group 1 patient (7%), 1 Group 2 patient (6%), and 7 Group 3 patients (44%). Highly concentrated papaverine had a higher risk of temporary deterioration. In conclusion, the papaverine concentration of 0.4% (w/v) infused at the top of the ICA was a safe and adequate concentration for treating cerebral vasospasm.