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Historically, the prognosis for poor grade subarachnoid hemorrhage patients has been considered dismal. As a result, many hospitals have chosen conservative management over aggressive therapy. This guarded approach, however, is based on studies that do not take into account newer, more effective, management protocols and more recent long-term evidence that significant neurological recovery occurs in the months to years following discharge. More accurate and predictive methods are needed to decide when aggressive therapy is warranted.Two hundred and twenty-six grade aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) patients of grades IV and V were admitted to Columbia University Medical Center and enrolled in our study. Demographics, clinical information (e.g. pupillary reactivity on admission), and treatment course (operative versus non-operative) were recorded. Rankin scores at 14 days, 3 months, and 1 year were also recorded. A favorable Rankin score was defined as 0–3. Unfavorable was defined as 4–6.Among all poor grade patients who received operative therapy, pupillary reactivity at admission was not predictive of a favorable Rankin score at day 14 (odds ratio = 3.3, P = 0.129). Pupillary reactivity, however, was predictive of Rankin score at 3 months (odds ratio = 4.57, P = 0.05) and 12 months (odds ratio = 6.44, P = 0.008). After constructing a Kaplan–Meiers survival curve, pupillary reactivity was a better predictor of survival at 12 months than H&H grade [Hazard ratio 3.342 (1.596–7.000) P = 0.001 versus 1.964 (1.016–3.798) P = 0.045].This study demonstrates that significant recovery occurs in the weeks to months after poor grade aSAH. Pupillary reactivity on admission can be used as a predictor of survival and recovery at intermediate and long-term time points, more so than Hunt and Hess grade.