The signal intensity of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the cerebral aqueduct and lateral ventricles on magnetic resonance (MR) images was evaluated in 16 healthy individuals and in 32 patients with various forms of hydrocephalus (20 with chronic normal pressure hydrocephalus [NPH], seven with acute communicating hydrocephalus, and five with hydrocephalus ex vacuo [atrophy]). The low signal intensity frequently observed in the cerebral aqueduct is believed to reflect the pulsatile motion of CSF, which is related to the cardiac cycle. While this "aqueductal flow void phenomenon" can be observed in healthy individuals, it is most pronounced in patients with chronic, communicating NPH; is less evident in patients with acute, communicating hydrocephalus; and is least evident in patients with atrophy. Ventricular compliance is known to be essentially normal in atrophy; mildly decreased in acute, communicating hydrocephalus; and severely decreased in NPH. The degree of aqueductal signal loss is believed to reflect the velocity of the pulsatile CSF motion, which in turn depends on the relative ventricular compliance and surface area.