Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is an uncommon demyelinating disease that occurs in immunocompromised patients. The authors evaluated magnetic resonance (MR) images of 10 patients with pathologically proved PML and clinically diagnosed acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) to determine the MR characteristics of this disorder. All patients had asymmetric cerebral involvement. Lesions were distributed throughout the brain, including the brain stem and basal ganglia. White matter was affected in all 10 patients; gray matter was also involved in five. In one patient the lesion enlarged and crossed the corpus callosum and contained focal hemorrhage. The authors conclude that, contrary to reported findings on computed tomographic scans, PML in patients with AIDS has a variable appearance on MR images and has many characteristics that differ from those previously thought to be typical on imaging studies.