Haemangioblastoma of the central nervous system (CNS) is the most characteristic lesion and the most common presenting manifestation of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and has a striking tendency to multiple occurrence. Its sites of predilection are the posterior fossa (cerebellum++), and the spinal cord. Haemangioblastoma may cause increased intracranial pressure and/or neurological deficits and remains the main cause of morbidity and mortality in VHL. Treatment of symptomatic haemangioblastoma remains neurosurgical and is often in emergency. Haemangioblastoma appears to be more commonly associated with VHL than previously reported and suggests that all patients with 'sporadic' haemangioblastoma should be investigated for evidence of VHL disease. From a fundamental point of view, haemangioblastoma is a benign neoplastic entity with a double, vascular and cellular differentiation. Mutational inactivation of both copies of the VHL gene plays a major role in the pathogenesis of haemangioblastoma. Over-expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF-receptors has been recently demonstrated in these tumours, raising the possibility of angioblastic origin, and is of very great interest in view of the direct implication of the VHL gene in negative regulation of VEGF.