Magnetic resonance imaging hyper-intensities were classified as periventricular rim, caps, and unidentified bright objects (UBOs). These were quantitated in 100 acute stroke and 23 hemorrhage patients and 59 control subjects selected from 590 consecutive scans. The rims, caps, and ventricular size were rated on a scale from 0 to 3 for severity, and the UBOs were counted. The results indicated that the rim is also frequent in control subjects and increases with age. Unidentified bright objects, caps, and severe rims usually signify pathology, occurring much more frequently in patients with strokes and hemorrhages than in control subjects. Hypertension is a significant risk factor in UBOs and caps, but in rims, the incidence of diabetes is higher. The clinical and pathologic significance of these hyperintensities and their relationship to Binswanger's disease, lacunar state, and "état criblé" is discussed.