OBJECT Intracranial pressure (ICP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) are frequently monitored in severely head injured patients. To establish which one (ICP or CPP) is more predictive of outcome and to examine whether there are significant threshold levels in the determination of outcome, receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to analyze data in a large series of head-injured patients. METHODS Data were obtained from a total of 291 severely head injured patients (207 adults and 84 children). Outcome was categorized as either independent (good recovery or moderate disability) or poor (severely disabled, vegetative, or dead) by using the Glasgow Outcome Scale; patients were also grouped according to the Marshall computerized tomography scan classification. CONCLUSIONS The maximum value of a 2-minute rolling average of ICP readings (defined as ICPmax) and the minimum value of the CPP readings (CPPmin) were then used to calculate the sensitivity and specificity of the ROC curves over a range of values. Using ROC curves, a threshold value for CPPmin of 55 mm Hg and for ICPmax of 35 mm Hg appear to be the best predictors in adults. For children the levels appear to be 43 to 45 mm Hg for CPPmin and 35 mm Hg for ICPmax. Higher levels of CPPmin seem important in adults with mass lesions. These CPP thresholds (45 mm Hg for children and 55 mm Hg for adults) are lower than previously predicted and may be clinically important, especially in children, in whom a lower blood pressure level is normal. Also, CPP management at higher levels may be more important in adults with mass lesions. A larger observational series would improve the accuracy of these predictions.