OBJECTIVE We investigated the value of the jugular compression test (JCT) in screening patients with chronic headache attributable to persistent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage. METHODS Clinical records of 35 consecutive patients who underwent both 111In-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid radioisotope (RI) cisternography and JCT were retrospectively analyzed. RESULTS A strong correlation was seen between JCT and RI cisternographic findings. Most patients who reported a feeling of fullness in the ear, hearing loss or headache during JCT had positive findings on RI cisternograms indicative of CSF leakage. In contrast, no RI study abnormalities were seen in patients reporting no symptoms in JCT. CONCLUSIONS Among patients complaining of refractory headache and other miscellaneous symptoms, JCT may represent a simple, economic, and reliable technique in the screening of candidates for RI cisternography to evaluate CSF leakage. A subgroup of patients with chronic headache may have persistent CSF leakage.