This investigation was undertaken to characterize CSF flow at the level of the aqueduct of Sylvius with a phase-contrast cine MR pulse sequence in 28 healthy volunteers. Sixteen patients with obstructive hydrocephalus and 11 patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) were investigated with the same sequence before and after CSF diversion. The peak CSF flow velocity and stroke volume in the aqueduct increased significantly in the NPH group and decreased significantly in the obstructive hydrocephalus group. After lumboperitoneal shunting in the NPH group, the retrograde flow of CSF was anterogradely converted and the peak flow velocities decreased somewhat. The clinical diagnosis of NPH was well correlated with the results of cine MRI. After endoscopic III ventriculostomy in the obstructive hydrocephalus group we noted increased CSF flow velocity with markedly increased stroke volume at the prepontine cistern. Phase-contrast cine MR is useful in evaluating CSF dynamics in patients with hyperdynamic aqueductal CSF or aqueductal obstruction.