Intensive management of patients with severe head injury offers the best hope of minimizing death and functional disability in a young, working population. Secondary neurologic insult can be decreased by cardiorespiratory support and ICP control from the outset. Rapid neurologic assessment, airway management, and support of circulation are the basis of emergency management for head injury. Patients with severe head injury require intensive care management for two major reasons: management of ICP and management of organ system dysfunction. Care should not be withheld because of initially grim (and inaccurate) prognostic assessment. Newer techniques for assessing the adequacy of cerebral circulation may allow refinement of management strategies in the future.