Collagen is the main matrix protein of the artery wall. We have used the known correlation between collagen birefringence and its mechanical properties to assess the wall structural integrity in brain arteries and their bifurcation regions, which are the sites of formation of saccular aneurysms. Segments of 28 brain arteries, including bifurcations, were pressure fixed and sectioned in one of three orthogonal planes. Measurements were taken by polarizing microscopy of the birefringence of collagen fibers at the apex of bifurcations and in the main layers of the artery wall – adventitia, media and intima. Dimensional data were obtained of the layers in order to estimate wall properties. Along the apex of the flow divider we measured a narrow band of collagen (birefringence 30% higher than the adjacent adventitia) providing strength and stiffness in that region. There is a thin cell-free outer layer of the tunica media (mean thickness 11 µm) comprised of densely packed coaligned collagen with high birefringence. From the fiber birefringence and directional alignment of the individual layers we calculated that the adventitia contributes about one third of circumferential and almost all of longitudinal strength of intracranial arteries.