Despite the great capacity for the pediatric brain to recover from stroke, the morbidity and mortality in children who harbor an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) remains high. This study examines the clinical data and management experience with 132 patients with brain AVM from 1949 to 1989. Although the high tendency for a childhood AVM to present with hemorrhage (79%) remained constant for the forty year study period, the associated morbidity and mortality of hemorrhage changed. The mortality rate from hemorrhage for the entire series was 25%, which was reduced from 39% to 16% after the introduction of computed tomography. The mortality from AVM hemorrhage since 1975 was dependent on location; 8 of 14 patients (57%) with a cerebellar AVM died from hemorrhage while only 2 of 44 patients (4.5%) with a cerebral hemisphere AVM died (p < 0.0001). Sixteen children (12%) presented with a chronic seizure disorder. Surgical excision of the malformation resulted in complete seizure control off anti-convulsant medication in 73% of patients. Although 21% of patients were treated non-operatively (many with terminal poor-grade hemorrhage), 79% had a surgical procedure with total AVM excision achieved in 70 patients (53.1%). Complete AVM resection was followed by a normal neurological outcome in 47 children (67%). Most partial excisions (n=9) and clipping of feeding arteries (n=7) were performed in the early years of this study, and did not provide protection from rehe-morrhage. Although conservative management has been advocated for selected non-hemorrhagic AVMs, we conclude that essentially all children with an AVM should be treated in order to eliminate the risk of hemorrhage. Long-term conservative management in pediatric patients is warranted only in patients with large AVMs not amenable to treatment using current multimodality techniques.