A recently developed method for image-selected localized hydrogen-1 magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy was assessed in the differential diagnosis of nine primary and secondary cerebral tumors, including four gliomas, two meningiomas, one neurilemoma, one arachnoid cyst, and one metastasis of breast cancer. Well-resolved H-1 MR spectra of these tumors were obtained in vivo with a conventional 1.5-T whole-body MR imaging system. All tumor spectra were remarkably different from spectra from normal brain tissue. Spectra obtained from different tumors exhibited reproducible differences, while histologically similar tumors yielded characteristic spectra with only minor differences. The observed spectral alterations reflect variations in concentrations and relaxation times of the H-1 MR sensitive pool of free (mobile) metabolites within the tissues. In most cases, the concentrations of N-acetyl-aspartate and creatine/phosphocreatine are reduced below detectability, whereas choline-containing compounds are generally enhanced. The spectral differences between the tumors are mainly due to the differing concentrations of lipids, lactic acid, and carbohydrates. Localized H-1 MR spectroscopy may become an important clinical tool for the differentiation of tumors as well as for therapeutic control.