Protocols suitable for repeated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of the tree shrew's brain were established. This included the development of (i) a technique for prolonged inhalation anesthesia by endotracheal intubation; (ii) a reproducible fixation of the animal's head in a stereotaxic frame and finally (iii) the set-up of the hardware (rf coil) and software (MRI sequences) of the MRI system. The endotracheal intubation as well as the repeated and prolonged anesthesia showed no complications. The in vivo measurements of the tree shrew's hippocampal formation revealed a high reproducibility. Right and left hippocampal volume was determined as 85.2 mm3 +/- 8% and 87.4 mm3 +/- 10%, respectively. The utility of MRI in delineating alterations in brain anatomy was demonstrated in three animals receiving cortisol via the drinking water (5 mg/animal/day). After a 4-week treatment, in two of the three tree shrews a reduction in hippocampal volume was observed. Thus, the MRI protocols used here allow for repeated and non-invasive measurements of changes in hippocampal anatomy within the same animal and to monitor the temporal dynamics of structural alterations within this brain structure.