Magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomographic (CT) perfusion imaging are evolving noninvasive imaging techniques that, unlike conventional MR and CT angiographic methods, can be used to evaluate capillary level tissue perfusion. These techniques can provide early, highly accurate delineation of ischemic tissue, allowing the underlying hemodynamic disturbances of disorders such as stroke and vasospasm to be further analyzed, as well as defining abnormal regions of blood pool in brain tumors. Because MR perfusion (MRP) and CT perfusion (CTP) imaging can assess physiologic parameters such as cerebral blood flow (CBF), cerebral blood volume (CBV), and mean transit time (MTT), they offer additional data that can be useful in the detection and characterization of entities such as tumor, infection, inflammation, and infarction, which all can have similar appearances on both contrast and noncontrast enhanced conventional CT and MR images. They can also facilitate the further evaluation of processes such as early dementia, psychiatric illnesses, and migraine headaches, which may appear normal on routine CT and MR imaging. MRP and CTP might also be of value in distinguishing residual or recurrent tumor from treatment effects such as radiation-induced necrosis. This article reviews the background principles, scanning techniques, and clinical applications of noninvasive cerebral perfusion imaging.