The distribution, frequency, and appearance of head injuries were evaluated with MRI and CT in a prospective study of 155 patients with acute (n = 124) and chronic (n = 31) head injuries. MRI was significantly more sensitive than CT in the detection of intraaxial injury at any stage. In severe cases, central structure lesions were detected in approximately 80% of patients. Severity on admission was compatible with MR findings. However it was difficult to decide on neurobehavioural prognosis from initial MRI findings only.