MR is now routinely and widely used in fetal neuroimaging and has proven to be valuable in the detection of many cerebral lesions, either genetically determined or acquired in utero. However, its efficiency has certain limits in the detection of diffuse white-matter abnormalities, the evaluation of fibre development and the demonstration of metabolic disorders. Moreover, conventional fetal MR imaging provides only a morphological approach to the fetal brain. New techniques such as diffusion-weighted imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, proton MR spectroscopy and functional MR imaging are developing. The majority of these are not used routinely. The principles, aims, technical problems and possible applications of these techniques for imaging the fetus are discussed.