Twenty-three patients had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) of the head prior to surgery for medically intractable epilepsy. Eleven patients had neoplasms, mostly astrocytomas. Six of the 11 tumors were seen on CT. In five of the six cases, the MRI showed a focal area of increased signal on T2-weighted images. All 11 tumors were detected by MRI. None of the non-neoplastic lesions produced an abnormal T2-weighted signal area on MRI. Only one of the non-neoplastic lesions was seen on both CT and on MRI. MRI allowed clear discrimination between tumors and non-neoplastic lesions in patients coming to surgery for intractable epilepsy.