MRI is increasingly used to study normal and abnormal brain development, but we lack a clear understanding of "normal". Previous studies have been limited by small samples, narrow age ranges and few behavioral measures. This multi-center project conducted epidemiologically based recruitment of a large, demographically balanced sample across a wide age range, using strict exclusion factors and comprehensive clinical/behavioral measures. A mixed cross-sectional and longitudinal design was used to create a MRI/clinical/behavioral database from approximately 500 children aged 7 days to 18 years to be shared with researchers and the clinical medicine community. Using a uniform acquisition protocol, data were collected at six Pediatric Study Centers and consolidated at a Data Coordinating Center. All data were transferred via a web-network into a MYSQL database that allowed (i) secure data transfer, (ii) automated MRI segmentation, (iii) correlation of neuroanatomical and clinical/behavioral variables as 3D statistical maps and (iv) remote interrogation and 3D viewing of database content. A population-based epidemiologic sampling strategy minimizes bias and enhances generalizability of the results. Target accrual tables reflect the demographics of the U.S. population (2000 Census data). Enrolled subjects underwent a standardized protocol to characterize neurobehavioral and pubertal status. All subjects underwent multi-spectral structural MRI. In a subset, we acquired T1/T2 relaxometry, diffusion tensor imaging, single-voxel proton spectroscopy and spectroscopic imaging. In the first of three cycles, successful structural MRI data were acquired in 392 subjects aged 4:6-18:3 years and in 72 subjects aged 7 days to 4:6 years. We describe the methodologies of MRI data acquisition and analysis, using illustrative results. This database will provide a basis for characterizing healthy brain maturation in relationship to behavior and serve as a source of control data for studies of childhood disorders. All data described here will be available to the scientific community from July, 2006.