Thirty-eight patients with biochemically proven Wilson's disease underwent magnetic resonance-imaging (MRI) of the brain as well as neurological examinations. The patients were scanned using spin-echo (SE) sequences; the neurologist was looking for typical symptoms: dysarthria, tremor, ataxia, rigidity/bradykinesia and chorea/dystonia. Pathological MR findings believed secondary to this uncommon inherited disorder of copper metabolism were found in twenty-two subjects. Focal abnormalities were seen in the lenticular, thalamic and caudate nuclei as well as in brain stem and white matter; these lesions were best demonstrated on T2-weighted sequences as hyperintense areas. In eight patients we found diffuse brain atrophy with consecutive widening of the ventricular system. Five subjects showed mild, nineteen severe neurologic deficits. Generally there was no correlation between MR findings and clinical neurological symptoms; the impairment of cell-metabolism causing functional alterations of the brain precedes morphological changes. During treatment with the copper chelator D-penicillamine there seemed to be a phased course of disease. Shortening of T1-relaxation due to paramagnetic influence of copper was not seen; a possible explanation could be intracellular deposition--a proton-electron-dipolar-dipolar-interaction would therefore be impossible.