Conventional radiography lacks sensitivity in early rheumatoid disease. MRI with its advantages of soft tissue discrimination and multiplanar imaging facility might detect earlier disease. This study compares the MR images and conventional radiographs of 11 rheumatoid patients' wrists and carpi. In all cases, erosions were more extensive and numerous on the MR images compared to plain radiographs. MR is useful in detecting early aggressive disease and in monitoring the response to treatments.