Cortical dysplasia has been documented in histological specimens surgically removed for treatment of refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. We studied 10 patients with cortical dysplasia and complex partial seizures who underwent temporal lobectomy. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed abnormalities in 5 of the patients who had microscopically detectable major abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed an abnormal cortical-white matter architectonic pattern in 2 patients with moderate cortical dysplasia. In the remaining 3 patients, magnetic resonance imaging findings were unremarkable. These observations suggest that magnetic resonance imaging is sensitive in the detection of certain dysplastic lesions in temporal lobe epilepsy. Preoperative identification of these abnormalities by magnetic resonance imaging may permit early and optimal surgical treatment in patients with refractory epilepsy.