The aim of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of the three-dimensional constructive interference of steady state (3D CISS) sequence (slice thickness 0.7 mm) and that of the T2-weighted fast spin echo (T2-weighted FSE) sequence (slice thickness 3 mm) for the visualization of all cranial nerves in their cisternal course. Twenty healthy volunteers were examined using the T2-weighted FSE and the 3D CISS sequences. Three observers evaluated independently the cranial nerves NI-NXII in their cisternal course. The rates for successful visualization of each nerve for 3D CISS (and for T2-weighted FSE in parentheses) were as follows: NI, NII, NV, NVII, NVIII 40 of 40 (40 of 40), NIII 40 of 40 (18 of 40), NIV 19 of 40 (3 of 40), NVI 39 of 40 (5 of 40), NIX, X, XI 40 of 40 (29 of 40), and NXII 40 of 40 (4 of 40). Most of the cranial nerves can be reliably assessed when using the 3D CISS and the T2-weighted FSE sequences. Increasing the spatial resolution when using the 3D CISS sequence increases the reliability of the identification of the cranial nerves NIII-NXII.