Objectives. Measures capable of detecting early alterations of brain function during acute cerebral ischaemia have not been adequately defined. Internal carotid artery (ICA) test occlusions provide a well controlled environment to investigate the effects of reversible acute hemispheric hypoperfusion on brain function. A continuous time estimation task was developed that reliably demonstrated alterations in higher cerebral function before development of any deficits in elementary neurological function during ICA balloon catheter test occlusions. In the present study, we hypothesised that alterations in our behavioural task would correlate significantly with absolute level of ipsilateral CBF. Methods. Twenty five patients underwent awake ICA test occlusions during which sustained attention and ipsilateral CBF were measured simultaneously using our time estimation task and the intracarotid 133Xe washout method. Alteration in sustained attention was correlated with CBF after occlusion using Fisher's exact test. Results. Deterioration in sustained attention was significantly associated with ipsilateral CBF below 30 ml/g/min (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.037). Changes in individual patients' performance on the behavioural task correlated in real time with changes occurring either at the point of occlusion or at a specific threshold of induced hypotension. Sensitivity for our behavioural test in predicting CBF was 75%; specificity 70%. Conclusions. Monitoring sustained attention during carotid balloon test occlusions seems to be a sensitive means to detect decreases in CBF as measured by 133Xe washout. Correlation between higher cerebral function and CBF can allow more detailed investigations of physiological relations between cerebral haemodynamics and brain function in human conditions of cerebral ischaemia.