Sagittal T1-weighted series with 3-mm sections have routinely been used for all cranial MR studies at our institution. It was apparent from examining these studies that the rate of occurrence of a normal posterior pituitary bright signal was lower than has been previously reported, particularly in older patients. This prompted both a retrospective and a prospective review and analysis of the posterior lobe bright signal in three patient categories. The overall frequency of posterior pituitary bright signal and the influence of sex and age were evaluated in one category. An age-related statistically significant decline in the frequency of posterior pituitary bright signal was found, with a decline rate of approximately 1% per year. An evaluation of the occurrence of anatomic variation in the location of posterior lobe bright signal was made in a second group of 1500 patients. Abberrant location of the posterior lobe was found to be uncommon and was seen most frequently in patients with a sellar fossula. Temporal variation in the presence or absence and size of the posterior lobe bright signal was evaluated in a third group of 36 patients who had at least two MR examinations available for review. Follow-up MR study showed an obvious posterior lobe bright signal in 8% of these patients for whom no bright signal was apparent at the time of initial examination. Loss of the posterior lobe bright signal was apparent in another 25% of patients. A significant change in size of the bright signal was apparent in 19% of patients within this category. Our results indicate that variation in the bright signal of the posterior pituitary lobe should be expected as a normal physiological occurrence.