Within one hour following MCA-occlusion in cats, heavily diffusion-weighted spin-echo MR images exhibited a well-defined hyperintensity in the gray matter and basal ganglia of the occluded side over normal side. This hyperintensity correlated with lactate and inorganic phosphate increases in peak areas from MR surface coil spectroscopy. T2-weighted MRI showed no significant abnormality in signal intensity from the occluded hemisphere within several hours post-occlusion. Using a paramagnetic MR contrast agent, dysprosium-DTPA-BMA together with heavily T2-weighted spin-echo or with T2*-weighted echo-planar (EPI) MR imaging, perfusion deficits resulting from MCA-occlusion were detected as a relative hyperintensity of ischaemic tissues compared to normally-perfused cerebral tissues in the contralateral hemisphere. Evidence of these deficits was observed within minutes of occlusion, and spatially correlated well with the hyperintensity seen on the diffusion-weighted images. Diffusion- and susceptibility-weighted MRI was superior to conventional T2-weighted MRI in the detection of early ischaemic events. In contrast to surface coil spectroscopy, both techniques mapped regions of jeopardy throughout the brain, which later showed T2-weighted hyperintensity and lack of vital (TTC) staining.