Spinal anaesthesia developed in the late 1800s with the work of Wynter, Quincke and Corning. However, it was the German surgeon, Karl August Bier in 1898, who probably gave the first spinal anaesthetic. Bier also gained first-hand experience of the disabling headache related to dural puncture. He correctly surmised that the headache was related to excessive loss of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In the last 50 yr, the development of fine-gauge spinal needles and needle tip modification, has enabled a significant reduction in the incidence of post-dural puncture headache. Though it is clear that reducing the size of the dural perforation reduces the loss of CSF, there are many areas regarding the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of post-dural puncture headache that remain contentious. How does the microscopic pattern of collagen alignment in the spinal dura affect the dimensions of the dural perforation? How do needle design, size and orientation influence leakage of CSF through the dural perforation? Can pharmacological methods reduce the symptoms of post-dural puncture headache? By which mechanism does the epidural blood patch cure headache? Is there a role for the prophylactic epidural blood patch? Do epidural saline, dextran, opioids and tissue glues reduce the rate of CSF loss? This review considers these contentious aspects of post-dural puncture headache.