Gadolinium 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N",N"'-tetraacetic acid (Gd-DOTA) is the first of a new class of macrocyclic paramagnetic magnetic resonance (MR) contrast agents (gadolinium cryptelates) to be used in clinical practice. Gadolinium-DOTA possesses relaxation properties similar to those of gadolinium diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-DTPA). We report our initial clinical experience in 38 patients with intracranial lesions studied with MR before and after injection of Gd-DOTA. Diseases included primary and metastatic brain tumor, cerebral infarct, vascular malformation, meningioma, hemangiopericytoma, schwannoma, and pituitary macroadenoma. Gadolinium-DOTA was administered intravenously in a dosage of 0.1 mmol/kg body weight. All studies were performed on a superconductive 0.5 T system. As compared to noncontrast T1- and T2-weighted images (WI), Gd-DOTA enhanced T1 WI were useful in defining the anatomy of malignant intraaxial tumors (high-grade glioma, metastasis) and in tumor versus edema differentiation. Low-grade gliomas did not enhance; in these cases the precontrast T2-weighted sequence was found to be more informative. In post-operative patients, Gd-DOTA allowed us to demonstrate residual tumor or tumor recurrence. Extraaxial tumors (meningioma, hemangiopericytoma, neuroma) enhanced markedly, presumably reflecting tumor vascularity. In our experience, the use of Gd-DOTA improves the anatomic definition of cerebral lesions and in some cases increases both MR sensitivity and specificity. We found Gd-DOTA to be a well tolerated and effective paramagnetic contrast agent. Gadolinium-DOTA can be considered as an alternative water-soluble MR contrast agent to Gd-DTPA.