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The objective of this article was to review the effects of acute intracranial lesions on myocardial function. The authors reviewed scientific and clinical literature retrieved from a computerized MEDLINE search from January 1965 through January 2002. Pertinent literature was referenced, including clinical and laboratory investigations, to demonstrate the effects of acute intracranial lesions on the cardiovascular system. The literature was reviewed to summarize the mechanisms of cardiac damage and clinical manifestations and treatment of cardiovascular dysfunction caused by acute intracranial lesions. Myocardial damage and rhythm disturbances were shown to occur with acute intracranial neurological disease. The subgroup of patients used in this study formed a substantial pool of cardiac donors for cardiac transplantation. The pathophysiology of myocardial dysfunction and the optimal management continues to be a source of debate. In this article, the authors will review the anatomy, the available evidence of the pathophysiology, and the management of this complex group of patients. They will also discuss areas that need to be further investigated. Cardiovascular effects of acute intracranial lesions are common and contribute to increased morbidity and mortality.