Displacement MR images of water in in vitro rat spinal cord were computed from q-space analysis of high b value diffusion-weighted MRI data. It is demonstrated that q-space analysis of heavily diffusion-weighted MRI (qs-DWI) provides MR images in which physical parameters of the tissues such as the mean displacement and the probability for zero displacement of the water molecules are used as contrasts. It is shown that these MR images provide structural information surpassing the spatial resolution of conventional MRI by several orders of magnitude. This imaging methodology was used to follow spinal cord maturation in the rat. It was found that changes in the diffusion characteristics of white matter upon maturation are responsible for the emergence of gray/white matter contrast. The mean displacement of water molecules in the white and gray matter of the mature rat spinal cord was found to be 2-3, and 8-10 microns, respectively. The potential and the limitations of this new imaging methodology for early detection of white matter disorders are discussed.