Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) was used to study regional changes in the brain's development from childhood (8-12 years, mean 11.1 +/- 1.3, N = 32) to young adulthood (21-27 years, mean 24.4 +/- 1.8, N = 28). Mean diffusivity (Trace/3 apparent diffusion coefficient, ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were measured in 30 regions of interest (ROIs) in 13 distinct brain structures. Correlational analysis was performed to detect changes within 8-12 years and within 21-27 years, and group analysis to compare childhood diffusion properties with young adult values. Increases of fractional anisotropy were seen in the genu of the corpus callosum, splenium of the corpus callosum, corona radiata, putamen, and head of the caudate nucleus within 8-12 years, and also between childhood and young adulthood. Reductions in Trace/3 ADC were observed in 9 of 13 structures within 8-12 years and into young adulthood as well. DTI demonstrates more widespread changes in the brain's microstructure with maturation than previous reports using conventional T1-weighted MRI scans. These findings suggest a continuation of the brain's microstructural development through adolescence.