Rapid cooling of the brain in the first minutes following the onset of cerebral ischemia is a potentially attractive preservation method. This computer modeling study was undertaken to examine brain-cooling profiles in response to various external cooling methods and protocols, in order to guide the development of clinical cooling devices. The criterion of successful cooling is the attainment of a 33.0°C average brain temperature within 30 minutes of treatment. Comparison of the finite element model results with a formal mathematical solution, give confidence that the simulation methods are sound. The cooling simulations considered to date all indicate that no one means of external cooling of the head or neck is sufficient to cool the brain in a reasonable period of time (30 minutes). Neither ice packs applied to head or neck, or cooling helmets can satisfy the 33.0°C target temperature specification. This central conclusion of insubstantial cooling is supported by the modest enhancements reported in experimental investigations of externally applied cooling. The key problem is overcoming the protective effect of warm blood perfusion, which reaches the brain via the uncooled carotid arterial supply and effectively blocks the external cooling wave from advancing to the core of the brain. This suggests that other cooling means should be explored requiring a realistic simulation of cooling of other pertinent parts of the human anatomy.