Acute surgery on cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) has seldom been reported or used. We reviewed 49 patients of ages 2 months to 78 years (mean 32.8 years), 32 male (65%) and 17 female (35%), treated acutely (within 4 days of bleed) in Helsinki Neurosurgery during 1997-2002. The following variables were assessed in regards to the outcome (Glasgow outcome score; GOS; 2-3 months after bleed): age, sex, Hunt and Hess Grade (HH), Spetzler-Martin Grade (SMG), location of AVM, size of intraparenchymal haematoma (ICH), and presence of intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH). Most of the patients were in a poor clinical condition on admission (two thirds were HH 4-5). 45 (92%) patients underwent extirpation of AVM and evacuation of ICH, within 4 days after bleed. Over 55% had good functional outcome. GOS correlated significantly with HH (p = 0.001), age (p = 0.006), and IVH (p = 0.049). On the other hand, SMG, location of AVM, and size of haematoma did not significantly predict the outcome. Microneurosurgery with preoperative embolization has made possible the excision of 90% of AVMs. It is our experience that it can be done acute and early, and it saves lives as compared to natural history of cerebral AVMs or late surgery, and accelerates rehabilitation of the patients.