Our purpose was to determine the frequency and significance of haemorrhagic lacunes (HL) on MRI in patients with a history of, or at risk for intracerebral haemorrhage. We examined 72 patients with old spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) using T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo sequences. MRI studies of 137 consecutive patients with cerebrovascular disease but no known ICH were also reviewed. Both groups showed about the same degree of age-related white matter change and nonhaemorrhagic lacunar infarcts, whereas the ICH group had a higher frequency of HL (12/72 patients) than the non-ICH group (6/131 patients, p < 0.01). These results correlate well with reported pathological findings. We conclude that haemorrhagic lacunes found on MRI studies of patients with cerebrovascular disease may suggest a higher risk of intracerebral haemorrhage.