Evidence on magnetic resonance (MR) images of disk degeneration and herniation, as well as of cord and root impingement, may be regarded either as normal, age-related changes or as causative of symptoms. Individuals referred for MR examinations of the larynx without symptoms referable to the cervical spine were studied retrospectively (35 patients) or prospectively (65 patients) over a 2-year period. With a solenoid surface coil, 5-mm-thick sections were acquired in sagittal, axial, and coronal planes with T1-weighted spin-echo pulsing sequences. Disk protrusion (herniation/bulge) was seen in five of 25 (20%) patients aged 45-54 and 24 of 42 (57%) patients older than 64 years of age. Posterolateral protrusions were seen in only nine of 100 patients and occurred with greatest frequency in patients over 64 years of age. In no patient was obliteration of the intraforaminal fat seen. Spinal cord impingement was observed in nine of 58 (16%) patients under 64 years of age, and in 11 of 42 (26%) patients over 64 years of age. Cord compression was observed in seven of 100 patients and occurred solely secondary to disk protrusion in all cases. The percentage of cord area reduction never exceeded 16% and averaged approximately 7%.