Magnetic resonance imaging was used to investigate whether the structural brain differences commonly observed in patients with schizophrenia as compared with normal control subjects are specific to gray or white matter, and furthermore whether such abnormalities are localizable to circumscribed cortical regions. Accordingly, 22 patients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for schizophrenia and 20 healthy community volunteers, all 23 to 45 years old, received magnetic resonance imaging scans. Seven axial magnetic resonance imaging sections of 5-mm thickness were segmented into cerebrospinal fluid, gray matter, and white matter compartments and used for volumetric quantification. For the healthy control subjects, age correlated significantly with the percentage of all magnetic resonance imaging sections taken up by gray matter but not white matter. After correcting for the normal effect of age, the schizophrenic group was found to have significantly less gray matter than the control group but no difference in white matter; ventricular volume was 34% greater in the schizophrenic group. The schizophrenic group had less gray matter in all six cortical subregions analyzed; these differences attained statistical significance for all but the parietal measure. These findings have implications for studies of localized gray matter abnormalities and suggest that regional brain volume measurements need to be expressed in the context of possible widespread gray matter volume deficits in schizophrenia.