Water-suppressed 1H magnetic resonance spectra were recorded from two brain regions of psychiatric patients and normal volunteers. The two regions studied were (a) the basal ganglia structures surrounding the anterior horn of the lateral ventricle and (b) the occipital cortex. N-Acetylaspartate (NAA), phosphocreatine-creatine (PCr-Cr), choline and inositol resonances were seen in both regions. Ratios of metabolite peak integrals to PCr-Cr peak integral were calculated for each spectrum. To control for partial volume effects, comparisons between patients and controls were made only from identical regions i.e. basal ganglia vs basal ganglia, and likewise for occipital cortex. Metabolite ratios from the occipital region of patients were similar to those from the occipital region of normal subjects. Bipolar patients being treated with lithium had elevated NAA/PCr-Cr in the basal ganglia region when compared to normals. These patients also demonstrated elevated choline/PCr-Cr and inositol/PCr-Cr ratios in the basal ganglia region.