OBJECTIVE: Incidence of chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is gradually increasing in young adults for several reasons. In this study, we aimed to identify features of CSDH noted in young adults that distinguish the disease from CSDH diagnosed in the elderly. METHODS: One hundred eighty-two patients with CSDH who underwent a total of 218 surgical procedures between January 2003 and February 2010 were retrospectively reviewed with regard to clinical presentation, radiographic results and prognosis including recurrence. To compare younger patients with the elderly, patients were divided into three groups on the basis of age (Group A: < or =40, Group B: 41-64, Group C: > or =65 years). RESULTS: Group A showed a male predominance (p=0.0001), lower rate of recurrence (p=0.0012), shorter symptom duration (p=0.035), and fewer leading signs such as hemispheric symptoms (p=0.005) compared to Groups B and C. Radiologic findings such as maximal hematoma thickness (p<0.0001) and degree of midline shift (p=0.028) were less severe in Group A than Groups B and C. Alcoholism was the most prevalent illness in all three groups. When exempting infants with hematologic malignancy, non-recurrence, previous trauma history, headache as leading symptom, and no mortality were all common in younger adults (all p<0.05). CONCLUSION: Young adults with CSDH show less severe clinical and radiologic features as well as fewer recurrences than noted in the elderly population. Even if a clinician's index of suspicion of CSDH in young adults complaining of headache is not high, meticulous radiologic surveillance could find CSDH, leading to satisfactory results including less frequent recurrence.