PURPOSE: Spatial accuracy is most crucial when small targets like the trigeminal nerve are treated. Although current quality assurance procedures typically verify that individual apparatus, like the MRI scanner, CT scanner, Gamma Knife, etc., are meeting specifications, the cumulative error of all equipment and procedures combined may exceed safe margins. This study uses an end-to-end approach to assess the overall targeting errors that may have occurred in individual patients previously treated for trigeminal neuralgia. METHODS: The trigeminal nerve is simulated by a 3 mm long, 3.175 mm (1/8 in.) diameter MRI-contrast filled cavity embedded within a PMMA plastic capsule. The capsule is positioned within the head frame such that the location of the cavity matches the Gamma Knife coordinates of an arbitrarily chosen, previously treated patient. Gafchromic EBT2 film is placed at the center of the cavity in coronal and sagittal orientations. The films are marked with a pinprick to identify the cavity center. Treatments are planned for radiation delivery with 4 mm collimators according to MRI and CT scans using the clinical localizer boxes and acquisition protocols. Shots are planned so that the 50% isodose surface encompasses the cavity. Following irradiation, the films are scanned and analyzed. Targeting errors are defined as the distance between the pinprick, which represents the intended target, and the centroid of the 50% isodose line, which is the center of the radiation field that was actually delivered. RESULTS: Averaged over ten patient simulations, targeting errors along the x, y, and z coordinates (patient's left-to-right, posterior-to-anterior, and head-to-foot) were, respectively, -0.060 ± 0.363, -0.350 ± 0.253, and 0.348 ± 0.204 mm when MRI was used for treatment planning. Planning according to CT exhibited generally smaller errors, namely, 0.109 ± 0.167, -0.191 ± 0.144, and 0.211 ± 0.094 mm. The largest errors along individual axes in MRI- and CT-planned treatments were, respectively, -0.761 mm in the y-direction and 0.428 mm in the x-direction, well within safe limits. CONCLUSIONS: The highly accurate dose delivery was possible because the Gamma Knife, MRI scanner, and other equipment performed within tight limits and scans were acquired using the thinnest slices and smallest pixel sizes available. Had the individual devices performed only near the limits of their specifications, the cumulative error could have left parts of the trigeminal nerve undertreated. The presented end-to-end test gives assurance that patients had received the expected high quality treatment. End-to-end tests should become part of clinical practice.