The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with echo-planar imaging (EPI) technique in depicting the tumor cellularity and grading of gliomas. Twenty consecutive patients (13 men and 7 women, ranging in age from 13 to 69 years) with histologically proven gliomas were examined using a 1.5 T superconducting imager. Tumor cellularity, analyzed with National Institutes of Health Image 1.60 software on a Macintosh computer, was compared with the minimum apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and the signal intensity on the T2-weighted images. The relationship of the minimum ADC to the tumor grade was also evaluated. Tumor cellularity correlated well with the minimum ADC value of the gliomas (P = 0.007), but not with the signal intensity on the T2-weighted images. The minimum ADC of the high-grade gliomas was significantly higher than that of the low-grade gliomas. Diffusion-weighted MRI with EPI is a useful technique for assessing the tumor cellularity and grading of gliomas. This information is not obtained with conventional MRI and is useful for the diagnosis and characterization of gliomas.