Motion of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in and around the brain and spinal cord was examined in healthy subjects and in a number of patients with abnormalities of the CSF circulation. The pulsatile motion of the CSF was determined by spin echo phase (velocity) imaging, sometimes in combination with gradient echo phase contrast cine. Differences in flow patterns across CSF spaces were observed: flow reversal in the cerebellomedullary cistern and lumbar area relative to cervical CSF, and in the posterior versus the anterior subarachnoid space in the spinal canal. Flow communication was demonstrated in known communicating cysts or cavities. Differences in flow were also noted across spinal narrowing or block, and across the walls of a variety of cystic lesions in the brain and spinal cord. MR phase imaging of CSF flow provides pathophysiological information of potential clinical importance for the assessment of diseases affecting the CSF circulation.