Leukodystrophies are genetically determined metabolic diseases, in which the underlying biochemical abnormality interferes with the normal build-up and/or maintenance of myelin, which leads to hypo- (or arrested) myelination, or dysmyelination with resultant demyelination. Although conventional magnetic resonance imaging has significantly contributed to recent progress in the diagnostic work-up of these diseases, diffusion-weighted imaging has the potential to further improve our understanding of underlying pathological processes and their dynamics through the assessment of normal and abnormal diffusion properties of cerebral white matter. Evaluation of conventional diffusion-weighted and ADC map images allows the detection of major diffusion abnormalities and the identification of various edema types, of which the so-called myelin edema is particularly relevant to leukodystrophies. Depending on the nature of histopathological changes, stage and progression gradient of diseases, various diffusion-weighted imaging patterns may be seen in leukodystrophies. Absent or low-grade myelin edema is found in mucopolysaccharidoses, GM gangliosidoses, Zellweger disease, adrenomyeloneuropathy, L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria, non-ketotic hyperglycinemia, classical phenylketonuria, Van der Knaap disease and the vanishing white matter, medium grade myelin edema in metachromatic leukodystrophy, X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy and HMG coenzyme lyase deficiency and high grade edema in Krabbe disease, Canavan disease, hyperhomocystinemias, maple syrup urine disease and leukodystrophy with brainstem and spinal cord involvement and high lactate.