Our aim was to evaluate the usefulness of proton MR spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) in the diagnosis of radiologically atypical brain meningiomas. We studied 37 patients with intracranial meningiomas with MRI and (1)H MRS (TE 136 ms). Their spectra were quantitatively assessed and compared with those of 93 other intracranial brain neoplasms: 15 low-grade and 14 anaplastic astrocytomas, 30 glioblastomas and 34 metastases. The most characteristic features of meningiomas were the presence of alanine, high relative concentrations of choline and glutamine/glutamate and low concentrations of creatine-containing compounds, N-acetyl-containing compounds and lipids. These resonances were assembled in algorithms for two-way differentiation between meningioma and the other tumours. The performance of the algorithms was tested in the 130 patients using the leave-one-out method, with 94% success in differentiating between meningioma and other tumour. Of the 37 meningiomas, five (14%) were thought atypical on MRI, and in only one of these, found to be malignant on histology, was a diagnosis other than meningioma suggested by the algorithm. The other four were correctly classified. We suggest that (1)H MRS provides information on intracranial meningiomas which may be useful in diagnosis of radiologically atypical cases.