Cerebral malaria is the most important manifestation of severe Plasmodium falciparum infection. The clinical picture in South East Asian adults differs from that in African children. The children are more likely to have abnormal brain stem reflexes, signs suggestive of cerebral herniation, and raised CSF opening pressure, and to suffer persistent neurological sequelae. The mortality remains high at about 20%. The diagnosis must be considered in all patients with fever and impaired consciousness who may have been exposed to the infection. The pathophysiology of cerebral malaria may involve mechanical obstruction of the cerebral circulation by parasitized erythrocytes which have adhered to the vascular endothelium. Cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor may also contribute. The most important element of treatment is early, optimal chemotherapy with quinine, but artemisinine derivatives may prove even more effective.