We describe the clinical characteristics and early natural history of a form of inflammatory optic neuropathy which is frequently bilateral and often painful, and is characterized by relapses and remissions. MRI scans of the brain are normal and those of the optic nerves often, but not always, show high signal abnormalities which enhance. The symptoms and signs respond well to corticosteroid treatment, although long-term immuno suppression is often necessary. The syndrome behaves in a way which is typical of the condition known as granulomatous optic neuropathy, but during a median follow-up of 8 (2-26) years in no case has evidence for systemic sarcoidosis been identified. We suggest that the disorder be named chronic relapsing inflammatory optic neuropathy (CRION).