Prehospital or admission hypotension doubles the mortality for patients with severe head injury (SHI = Glasgow Coma Scale score less than or equal to 8). To our knowledge no study to date has determined the effects of intraoperative hypotension [IH: systolic blood pressure (SBP) less than 90 mm Hg] on outcome in patients with SHI. This study examined 53 patients who had SHI and required early surgical intervention (surgery within 72 hours of injury). All patients were initially normotensive on arrival. There were 17 patients (32%) who developed IH and 36 (68%) who remained normotensive throughout surgery. The mortality rate was 82% in the IH group and 25% in the normotensive group (p less than 0.001). The duration of IH was inversely correlated with Glasgow Outcome Scale using linear regression (R = -0.30; p = 0.02). Despite vigorous fluid resuscitation in the IH group, additional pharmacologic support was used in only 32%. These data suggest that IH is not uncommon after SHI (32%) and that it does have a significant effect on patient outcome.