An anxiety reduction protocol was developed and evaluated for routine use with neurology and neuropsychiatry patients undergoing brain or spinal scans. Thirty five patients underwent standard procedures, with limited information given in advance. Twenty nine experimental patients received a booklet giving information about the scanning procedure and advice on cognitive strategies for anxiety reduction, a tape-recorded demonstration of scanner noise, a visit to the control room before entering the scanner, a device to signal for adjustment of music volume, precise timings of each scan, and a clock visible during scanning. Anxiety was measured before, during, and after scanning, using subjective ratings and a retrospective version of the Spielberger State Anxiety Scale. There was no difference in anxiety between groups immediately prior to the scan and immediately after entering the scanner. Patients in the experimental group were significantly less anxious during the scan than control patients, as measured by mean anxiety ratings made during the imaging procedure and by retrospective State Anxiety scores completed immediately after leaving the scanner. The results show that scan-related anxiety can be reduced by introducing these simple changes to MR imaging procedures, with minimal cost, no special training of staff, and no disruption of the running of the MR Unit.