Magnetic resonance (MR) images, contact radiographs, and histologic sections of six femoral head specimens with avascular necrosis were correlated. A low-signal-intensity band or ring represented the repair tissue interface surrounding a high-signal-intensity necrotic marrow segment. Large segmental areas of low signal intensity were observed on T1-weighted images when the lesion consisted of necrotic bone with amorphous marrow debris and adjacent thickened trabecular bone with mesenchymal repair tissue infiltration. On intermediate-weighted images, however, mesenchymal repair tissue, which was located inferior to the necrotic zone, increased markedly in signal intensity, permitting distinction from low-intensity necrotic bone with amorphous marrow debris. When trabecular thickening with collapse predominated, segmental areas of low signal intensity with both sequences were found. MR signal intensities used in combination with anatomic configuration and location may provide information of potential therapeutic importance regarding tissue composition and stage of disease.