Forty-five acute head trauma patients were randomized into a neurotrauma nutritional study to compare the efficacy of two forms of standard nutritional supplementation; namely total parenteral nutrition (TPN) versus enteral nutrition (NG). Forty patients were male, 5 were female, with a median age of 28 years. The mean admitting Glasgow coma scale score was 5.8. Patients were given high calorie and nitrogen feedings for the 14 days of the study period in an attempt to achieve positive calorie and nitrogen balance. TPN patients had significantly higher mean daily nitrogen intakes (P < 0.01) and mean daily nitrogen losses (P < 0.001) than the NG fed patients; however, no significant differences were discovered with respect to maintenance of serum albumin levels, weight loss, the incidence of infection, nitrogen balance, and final outcome. The exaggerated nitrogen excretion experienced by patients fed large nitrogen loads illustrates a problem in achieving nitrogen equilibrium in acute head injured patients.