We reviewed the clinical and MRI findings in primary nerve-sheath tumours of the trigeminal nerve. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records, imaging and histological specimens of 10 patients with 11 primary tumours of the trigeminal nerve. We assessed whether tumour site, size, morphology or signal characteristics were related to symptoms and signs or histological findings. Histological proof was available for 8 of 11 tumours: six schwannomas and two plexiform neurofibromas. The other three tumours were thought to be schwannomas, because they were present in patients with neurofibromatosis type 2 and followed the course of the trigeminal nerve. Uncommon MRI appearances were observed in three schwannomas and included a large intratumoral haemorrhage, a mainly low-signal appearance on T2-weighted images and a rim-enhancing, multicystic appearance. Only four of nine schwannomas caused trigeminal nerve symptoms, including two with large cystic components, one haemorrhagic and one solid tumor. Of the five schwannomas which did not cause any trigeminal nerve symptoms, two were large. Only one of the plexiform neurofibromas caused trigeminal nerve symptoms. Additional neurological symptoms and signs, not related to the trigeminal nerve, could be attributed to the location of the tumour in three patients.