Thirty-four joints (19 knees, 15 wrists) of 31 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders were examined prior to and following intravenous administration of Gadolinium-DTPA (0.1 mmol/kg body weight). T1-weighted spin-echo sequences and the gradient-echo technique FLASH were applied. FLASH scanning was used for the registration of the time-dependent changes of signal intensity following Gd-DTPA. Synovial proliferations exhibited a rapid and marked increase of signal intensity whereas fatty tissue, bone marrow, muscle and synovial effusion demonstrated only minor changes, causing enhanced contrast between synovial pannus and joint effusion or other neighbouring structures. Within the synovial pannus, ratios (absolute signal increase) of 131.3 +/- 53.4% and 122.9 +/- 51.1% were found in T1-weighted spin-echo and in FLASH sequences respectively. The average signal increase gradient of pannus (108.2 +/- 70.6%/min) was significantly (p less than 0.001) different from muscle (13.4 +/- 7.8%/min), fatty tissue (10.2 +/- 8.4%/min), bone marrow (5.5 +/- 7.1%/min), and joint effusion (14.7 +/- 7.8%/min).