BACKGROUND: There is a shortage of data addressing the clinical characteristics of patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) who present with intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH). METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of members of a large, pre-paid health care program was conducted to identify factors that distinguish ICH secondary to cerebral AVMs from all other causes. Univariate and multivariate analysis was performed using Student’s t test, Wilcoxon rank-sum test, and logistic regression. RESULTS: Patients with an underlying AVM were younger and more likely to be female, non-smokers with lower blood pressures, lower cholesterol, and lower white blood cell counts on presentation. CONCLUSIONS: These clinical characteristics may be useful in defining potential risk factors in future prospective studies as well as targeting candidates for additional imaging studies after ICH with no apparent etiology.