A pulsed magnetic field gradient spin echo technique was used to study the brain of two volunteers and eight patients. The pulsed gradients were applied both perpendicular and parallel to the image slice. Striking changes in signal intensity were demonstrated in white matter depending on the direction in which pulsed gradients were applied. These effects enabled specific white matter tracts to be identified depending on the direction of their fibres. Abnormalities were also demonstrated in these tracts in patients with a variety of diseases, including cases where only minor abnormalities were seen with conventional, highly T2-weighted sequences. The effects were attributed to anisotropically restricted diffusion within white matter. The technique may have application in a wide range of neurological disease and result in better localisation of lesions and improved detection of disease.