We retrospectively evaluated the MRI from 17 patients with primary brain stem injury obtained in the acute stage. Clinical and radiological findings were analyzed in these 17 patients. T2-weighted imaging proved to be most sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of primary brain stem injury. We found two patterns of brain stem injury. The good prognosis group showed ventral brain stem lesions or dorsal superficial brain stem lesions. On the other hand the poor prognosis group showed deep dorsal brain stem lesions. These acute stage findings are seen only temporally in many cases so that it is most important to examine MRI findings in the acute stage to evaluate the prognosis of the patient. MRI was valuable in predicting the outcome. The possible mechanism of brain stem injury in patients with head injury is briefly discussed.