Interest in the brain's circulation dates back more than a century and has been steadily growing. Quantitative methods for measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and energy metabolism became available in the middle of the 20th century and gave a new boost to the research. Scientific meetings dealing with CBF and metabolism were arranged, and the fast growing research led to a demand for a specialized journal. In this scientific environment, the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (ISCBFM) and its official Journal of Cerebral Metabolism were established in 1981 and has since then been a major success. The development of new brain imaging methods has had a major impact. Regulation of CBF and ischemia has been the main topics at the meetings. A new field of brain mapping research emerged and has now its own society and meetings. Brain emission tomography research has grown within the society and is now an integrated part. The ISCBFM is a sound society, and support of young scientists is among its goals. Several awards have been established. Other activities including summer schools, courses, satellite meetings, and Gordon conferences have contributed to the success of the society and strengthened the research.