A novel magnetic resonance imaging method was used to determine whether it is feasible to detect early signs of cortical atrophy among individuals who are at high risk for developing schizophrenia. Fifteen individuals at high-risk for schizophrenia and 15 of their first degree relatives diagnosed with schizophrenia were compared with controls (n=25) who did not have a family history of psychiatric illness or psychiatric hospitalizations. On the basis of a voxelwise analysis of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps derived from diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging, these individuals showed evidence of deficits in four separate regions of the brain, all on the left side only: parahippocampal gyrus, lingual gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus. However, conventional volumetric quantification of ventricular space to detect atrophy failed to reveal differences between high-risk subjects and controls. It is concluded that ADC may be a more sensitive measure than ventricular volume assessments for use in future studies of early prediction of schizophrenia.