To avoid an unnecessary extend of surgery in primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL), the diagnosis should be suspected after MRI. Pre-treatment MRI examinations of 100 immunologically competent patients with biopsy-proven PCNSL were evaluated. All patients had T2- and T1-weighted images with contrast enhancement. Diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) was available in 15, proton-MR-spectroscopy (1H-MRS) in four patients. The number of lesions ranged from one (n=65 patients) to eight (n=1) with a mean of 1.7. The most frequent locations were the cerebral hemispheres (n=66), the basal ganglia (n=27) and the corpus callosum (n=24). In the 65 patients with a solitary lesion, hemispheric lesions were most frequent (n=23) followed by corpus callosum (n=18). Contrast enhancement was found in all but one patient. 1H-MRS revealed a uniformly pathologic pattern of metabolite concentrations in all patients. Characteristic imaging features of PCNSL are contrast-enhancing lesions with a diameter of at least 15 mm in contact with the subarachnoid space. DW-MRI and proton spectroscopy may aid in differential diagnosis.