PURPOSE: To review the extent and mechanism of the recovery of vestibular function after sudden, isolated, spontaneous, unilateral loss of most or all peripheral vestibular function - usually called acute vestibular neuritis. METHODS: Critical review of published literature and personal experience. RESULTS: The symptoms and signs of acute vestibular neuritis are vertigo, vomiting, nystagmus with ipsiversive slow-phases, ipsiversive lateropulsion and ocular tilt reaction (the static symptoms) and impairment of vestibulo-ocular reflexes from the ipsilesional semicircular canals on impulsive testing (the dynamic symptoms). Peripheral vestibular function might not improve and while static symptoms invariably resolve, albeit often not totally, dynamic symptoms only improve slightly if at all. CONCLUSIONS: The persistent loss of balance that some patients experience after acute vestibular neuritis can be due to inadequate central compensation or to incomplete peripheral recovery and vestibular rehabilitation has a role in the treatment of both.