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Fifteen patients with cerebral venous thrombosis were ascertained retrospectively.Their case notes were reviewed, and stored or new blood was assayed for factor V Leiden (FVL) mutation, prothrombin gene mutation 20201A, and 5,10 methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T mutation. A clinical risk factor was identified in 13 patients-the oral contraceptive pill (5), puerperium (1), HRT (1), mastoiditis (1), dehydration (1), lumbar puncture and myelography (1), carcinoma (1), lupus anticoagulant (2). In addition, two patients had the FVL mutation and five (one of whom also had the FVL mutation) were homozygous for the MTHFR mutation. The latter showed a higher than expected frequency compared to 300 healthy controls from South Wales (OR 3.15.95%Cl 1.01-9.83). No patient had the prothrombin 20201A mutation. Two patients died and three had a monocular visual deficit following anticoagulation (13) or thrombolytic (2) treatment, but there was no association between the presence of a primary prothrombotic risk factor and outcome. These results confirm the importance of investigating patients for both clinical predisposing factors and primary prothrombotic states.