A prospective study in 31 patients was designed to compare contrast quantitatively using axial conventional, gated spin-echo T2-weighted (T2W) (SE) (asymmetrical echo TE 30 and 80 ms) and axial dual-echo fast spin-echo (FSE) sequences (TEeff 20 and 120 ms) to image lumbar discs, nerve roots, and cerebrospinal fluid CSF. We used two quantitative measures, percent (%) contrast and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), to compare the sequences. The FSE sequence had greater % contrast and CNR on the first and second echo images for both disc and nerve root detection using these scan parameters. An axial FSE sequence, therefore, provided contrast characteristics similar to those of gated axial T2W SE sequence in the lumbar spine, with a 60% saving in acquisition time. The FSE sequence is now our standard axial T2W study for the lumbar spine.