Single voxel 1H double spin-echo MR spectroscopy was used to examine 15 cases of brain metastasis of mammary carcinoma (18 lesions) in relation to Gd-DTPA enhanced MR imaging. For lesions larger than 50% of MRS voxel size, there was significant correlation between Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI signal and MRS-detected signal of choline (Cho) containing compounds (r = 0.86, P < 0.01; n = 8). The observed loss of correlation when including the smaller lesions was overcome by correcting for partial volume effects (r = 0.69, P < 0.002; n = 18). Metastasis spectra showed increased Cho compared with control spectra, except for those lesions showing detectable lactate (Lact) signal. The detection of Lact in four of the larger lesions coincided with comparatively low levels of creatine (Cr) and Cho and heterogeneous Gd-DTPA enhancement (Cr) and Cho and heterogeneous Gd-DTPA enhancement (ring-enhancement). It was concluded that in brain metastases of mammary carcinoma Lact represents a product of ischemia preceding/during tissue decay resulting in central necrosis, rather than tumor specific metabolism resulting in increased glycolysis.