In vivo measurement of T2 relaxation times in multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is potentially useful for the evaluation of the disease activity. Seven patients with definite MS were investigated over a period of three years (19 examinations), using a whole-body MRI scanner operating at 0.15 T with a specially designed high-power radio-frequency head coil. A modified CPMG sequence with a 180 degree pulse interval of TE = 6 msec and 128 echoes was used for the T2 relaxation measurement of the areas of increased signal (AIS) and white matter (WM). A biexponential T2 analysis of each pixel of the spin-echo images was computed. The T2 relaxation processes were found to be a monoexponential function in WM. The T2 relaxation times of apparently normal white matter in MS patients was significantly longer than in control subjects. The T2 relaxation curves of the AIS were found in most cases to fit a biexponential function characterized by a short and a long T2. T2 long relaxation times of AIS were spread out over a wide range (150-560 msec). The study of T2 long histograms shows that some AIS can be divided into two or three parts depending on the T2 long values. Each of these parts may correspond to a pathological process such as edema, demyelination and gliosis. Evolution of T2 relaxation times over a period of time cannot as yet be correlated with modifications in the clinical state.