The distribution of iron in the brain was analyzed using high field strength (1.5 T) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in 14 healthy control individuals and six patients with Parkinson plus syndromes (multisystem atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy) who were unresponsive to antiparkinsonian therapy. The normal topographic distribution of iron in the brain as indicated by high field MR images coincided precisely with the distribution of iron in the brain as determined by Perls staining for ferric iron. In Parkinson plus syndromes, there were abnormally increased concentrations of iron (decreased T2 relaxation times) in the putamen, and less prominent increases in the caudate nucleus and lateral pars compacta of the substantia nigra. In high field strength MR images of normal patients, the decreased signal intensity in the globus pallidus is more prominent than that of the putamen. In MR images of patients with Parkinson plus syndromes, the decreased signal intensity of the putamen is more prominent than that of the globus pallidus.