Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed in 30 children with unexplained developmental delay who had associated neurological abnormalities such as seizures, spasticity, hypotonia, ataxia or poor vision. No child had a history of regression, preterm birth or neonatal cerebral injury. CT scans were performed before MR in all cases and were either normal or showed only mild atrophy. At least two MR sequences were obtained for all patients. Nine children had delayed or absent myelination on MR, one had patchy white-matter abnormalities, and in one patient myelination was topographically normal, but of inappropriately low signal intensity. MR was abnormal in six of seven children who had abnormal brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP), and was normal in nine of 11 patients who had a normal BAEP. MR may have a useful rôle in demonstrating abnormal white-matter maturation in children with unexplained neurodevelopmental delay, particularly when abnormalities are found on BAEP studies.