A two-centre intra-individual crossover study was performed in 23 patients with suspected high-grade glioma or metastases to assess and compare the safety and enhancement characteristics of two different MRI contrast media (gadobenate dimeglumine, Gd-BOPTA and gadoterate meglumine, Gd-DOTA) at equivalent doses of 0.1 mmol/kg body weight. T1-weighted spin-echo (SE) and T2-weighted fast SE images were obtained before and T1-weighted images 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 15 min after injection. T1-weighted images with magnetisation transfer contrast were acquired 12 min after injection. Qualitative assessment by blinded, off-site readers (reader 1:19 patients; reader 2:21) and on-site investigators (23) revealed significant (P< or =0.005) overall preference for Gd-BOPTA over Gd-DOTA for contrast enhancement (Gd-BOPTA preferred in 18, 15 and 18 cases; Gd-DOTA in 0, 1 and 1 and no preference in 1, 5 and 4; off-site readers 1 and 2, and on-site investigators, respectively). A similar significant preference for Gd-BOPTA was expressed by off-site readers and on-site investigators for lesion-to-brain contrast, lesion delineation, internal lesion structure, and overall image preference. Quantitative assessment by off-site readers revealed significantly (p<0.05) greater lesion enhancement with Gd-BOPTA than with Gd-DOTA at all times from 2 min after injection.