Although metrizamide is now being superseded by other contrast media, the mechanisms of its side effects may be of fundamental importance. One hundered and four consecutive patients with suspected cervical cord or root lesion were studied prospectively for factors which might influence the side effects of metrizamide myelography. Elderly patients were more prone to develop mental confusion. An earlier onset of dizziness and/or vertigo was associated with the lumbar route of intrathecal injection. Perhaps surprisingly, phenobarbitone prophylaxis shortened the duration of confusion and delayed the onset of headaches. Other factors, viz. sex, excess intracranial flow of metrizamide and myelographic blockage were not shown to have a signifiant influence on the adverse reactions.