Image-guided localized proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy of intracranial tumors was performed to correlate spectral patterns and histologic findings. Thirty-six patients were examined prior to any specific treatment. Evaluation based on signal intensity ratios showed that all tumor spectra differed from spectra of healthy brain tissue. Ratios of creatine to choline-containing compounds (Cr/Cho) and nitrogen acetyl-aspartate to Cho (NAA/Cho) were reduced significantly in all tumor spectra compared with spectra of normal tissue in contralateral brain hemispheres (P less than .005). Noncerebral tumors typically showed a vanishing or missing NAA signal, strongly reduced Cr signal, and additional signals, assigned to alanine in meningiomas and lipids in metastases. In contrast, 11 gliomas of grades 2 and 3 exhibited NAA/Cho ratios and Cr/Cho ratios that were less than normal but that were significantly larger (P less than .01) than corresponding values in eight meningiomas. Ten glioblastomas displayed spectra with various signal ratios, so no significant differences between them and other tumor types could be established. In nine gliomas a clearly detectable lactate signal was present. However, no direct correlation between lactate level and histologic tumor grading was found.