Headaches, vomiting, and altered sensorium can be seen in patients with shunt malfunction as well as in those with migraines. We report five cases in which children with hydrocephalus and CSF shunts presented with a variety of recurring symptoms, including headache, vomiting, impairment of consciousness to the point of coma, and, in one patient, descerebrate posturing. Various diagnoses were entertained: shunt malfunction, slit ventricle syndrome, and low pressure (overshunting). Repeated procedures were carried out in all patients, including shunt taps, multiple shunt revisions, and a subtemporal decompression. When the diagnosis of migraine was considered, four patients improved on propranolol therapy; one failed this therapy but responded to verapamil. We conclude that in patients with hydrocephalus and repeated bouts of symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, and impairment of consciousness and in the case of documented, adequate shunt function, the diagnosis of migraine be entertained before further operative intervention is undertaken.