Fifteen patients with biochemically documented phenylketonuria (PKU) were studied with use of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with spin-echo T2-weighted pulse sequences. The resulting images demonstrated varying degrees of symmetric high signal intensity of the white matter within the posterior cerebral hemispheres. Involvement of the anterior hemispheres was seen only in cases with severe signal intensity changes. There was no involvement of the cerebral cortex, brain stem, or cerebellum. Moreover, no anatomic structural abnormalities were observed. Mild cortical atrophy was observed in eight of the 15 patients. There was no significant correlation between the patients' IQ scores and the level of MR signal intensity changes. Although MR imaging routinely shows relatively distinct abnormalities in patients with PKU, the clinical severity of the disease does not parallel its imaging severity.