Two patients had sudden alteration of consciousness followed by fluctuating hypersomnia and bilateral ophthalmoplegia. Magnetic resonance imaging showed asymmetric, paramedian thalamic and midbrain lesions. The clinical and neuroimaging features are consistent with the syndrome of the paramedian thalamic arteries of the basilar communicating artery. These strokes were caused by an embolus to the rostral basilar artery originating from a fibrillating heart. Magnetic resonance imaging clearly delineates the delicate pattern of arterial involvement in mesodiencephalic junction infarctions.