Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of wallerian degeneration in the brain stem was studied in 30 hemiplegic patients within 12 months of ictus. As early as 25 days after the ictus, decreased signal intensities on proton-density(PD)-weighted images were observed in the brain stem ipsilaterally. This hypointensity gradually approached an isointense stage during 70-80 days after the ictus, abnormal intensities were not detected in any pulse sequence. We termed this phenomenon "Fogging effect of wallerian degeneration". In later stages, at least 81 days after the ictus, increased signal intensities on T2-weighted images, with or without decreased signal intensities on T1-weighted images, were observed in the brain stem, ipsilaterally. Finally, at least six months after the ictus, mild shrinkage of the ipsilateral brain stem was newly detected on the T1-weighted images. MR imaging has proven to be a sensitive diagnostic modality for evaluating wallerian degeneration in the brain stem.