To assess the incidence of secondary insults and unidentified extracranial injuries a prospective audit of 50 head-injury transfers to a regional neurosurgical unit using a standardized assessment proforma was undertaken. There was wide variability in the quality of transfers. Six per cent of the group were hypoxic on arrival and 15 per cent were hypotensive. In the patients with multiple injuries, 29 per cent had inadequately diagnosed or managed injuries when they arrived. A comparison of this cohort of patients with previous studies is presented. As a result of the audit a set of transfer and referral guidelines have been drawn up and, following distribution of the guidelines to our referring hospitals, a further cohort of patients will be audited.