We investigated whether interferon-beta1a modifies the course of new enhancing lesions in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Sixty-eight patients were studied by monthly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a pretest-posttest design including 6 months of observation and 6 months of treatment. We examined the course of new Gd-enhancing lesions on two consecutive scans during observation and during treatment. Lesions detected during treatment were also analyzed by MRI 1 year later for persistence of enhancement, persistence of T2 hyperintensity, development of T1 hypointensity, or disappearance. Among the enhancing lesions detected by observation and treatment MRI, respectively, Gd-enhancement persisted at 2 months in 20% and 3% (P < 0.001), T2 hyperintensity persisted in 86% and 63% (P < 0.03), and T1 hypointensity developed in 49% and 15% (P < 0.01). Progression to T1 hypointensity was significantly more frequent in larger lesions during both the observation and treatment periods (P < 0.01). No reenhancement of plaques was present at 1-year follow-up; a further reduction in T2 hyperintensity (63% vs. 39%) was observed while T1 hypointensity remained unchanged. Both the duration of Gd enhancement and the short-term MRI course of new enhancing lesions benefited by treatment with recombinant interferon-beta1a treatment.