Measurement of water self-diffusion in the brain in 25 patients with multiple sclerosis was performed by magnetic resonance imaging. Quantitative diffusion measurements were obtained using single spin-echo pulse sequences with pulsed magnetic field gradients of different magnitude. Twenty-two of these patients also underwent measurement of the transverse relaxation time (T2). Only one plaque was evaluated in each patient. Based on prior knowledge, 12 plaques were classified as being 3 mo or less in age, and 7 plaques were classified as being more than 3 mo old. In all 25 plaques, water self-diffusion was found to be higher than in apparently normal white matter. Furthermore, water self-diffusion was found to be higher in acute plaques compared with chronic plaques. Finally, a slight tendency toward a relationship between the diffusion capability and T2 was found. We believe that an increased diffusion capability signifies an increase of the extracellular water space, which probably is related to the degree of demyelination. Thus, measurement of water self-diffusion in multiple sclerosis plaques may contribute to the study of pathogenesis of demyelination.