OBJECTIVE: We analyzed the main causes leading to a poor outcome (severe disability, a vegetative state and death) following surgical treatment for ruptured intracerbral aneurysms. METHODS: Between January 1994 and December 2007, we maintained a retrospective database of 339 patients who underwent surgical clipping. The various causes we investigated were the technical problems during operation, the initial SAH or ICH, vasospasm, hydrocephalus and the post-operative medical complications. The clinical outcome was assessed according to the Glasgow Coma Scale (GOS). RESULTS: There were 263 cases of good outcomes (77.6%) and 76 cases of poor outcomes (22.4%). The three main causes of a poor outcome were 1) preoperative causes such as the direct insult of the initial SAH and ICH in 21 cases (27.6%), 2) intra-operative causes such as the technical problems during dissection and clipping of the aneurysm neck in 29 cases (38.2%) and 3) postoperative causes such as clinical vasospasm in 16 cases (21.1%). The mean follow-up period was 17.6 months (range : 2 months to 9 years). CONCLUSION: A meticulous neck dissection and complete obliteration of the aneurysm preserving parent arteries and perforators are the most effective and prime methods that surgeons can employ to reduce the rate of poor outcomes when performing ruptured aneurysm surgery.