Objective: To investigate the association between gender and deprivation and rates of admission to a national neurorehabilitation facility following subarachnoid haemorrhage or traumatic brain injury. Design: Retrospective analysis of hospital activity data. Setting: Lothian Health Board hospital activity; national neurorehabilitation centre. Subjects: Patients with subarachnoid haemorrhage or traumatic brain injury. Methods: We obtained data for hospital discharge for subarachnoid haemorrhage and traumatic brain injury for patients living in the Lothian Health Board area for the five years 1995 to 1999 by age (15 and over), sex and deprivation category of home residence from nationally held data sets. Similar data were extracted for discharges from the national neurorehabilitation unit. Main measures: Rates of neurorehabilitation admission per 1000 hospital admissions. Chi-squared testing was used to assess statistical significance. Results: Data for 13 338 hospital admissions and 329 neurorehabilitation admissions were available. We observed higher than expected rates of rehabilitation admission for men with subarachnoid haemorrhage and for patients from more affluent postcode sectors with traumatic brain injury. Conclusion: Higher rehabilitation rates are seen among men following subarachnoid haemorrhage and may indicate a focus on return-to-work in the referral or assessment of those suitable for or requiring neurorehabilitation. Higher rehabilitation rates in head injury in those from Carstairs Deprivation Category (DepCat) 2 postcode sectors may represent a bias favouring those from affluent areas in the interaction between the individual and the health service in this group.