We compared contrast-enhanced T1-weighted and 3D constructive interference in steady state (CISS) sequences for demonstrating possible prognostic factors in hearing-preservation surgery for vestibular schwannoma. We studied 22 patients with vestibular schwannomas having hearing-preservation surgery. Postoperatively six (27%) had a facial palsy and eight (36%) had hearing loss. There was a significant correlation between the size of the tumour and facial palsy (r=-0.72). Both techniques adequately demonstrated all tumours. Involvement of the fundus of the internal auditory canal (IAC) and a small distance between the lateral border of the tumour and the fundus were correlated significantly with hearing loss (r=-0.81 and -0.75, respectively). The 3D-CISS sequence, by virtue of its high contrast resolution was superior to T1-weighted images ( P<0.05) for detection of the fundal involvement. The direction of displacement of the facial nerve did not correlate with facial palsy or hearing loss. We think that 3D-CISS images better show the features influencing surgical outcome, but that contrast-enhanced T1-weighted images are required for diagnosis.