Arteriovenous fistulae and malformations (AVFs and AVMs) of the spinal cord are rare, potentially treatable causes of progressive disability. Although a variety of MRI abnormalities has been described, the diagnosis rests on the findings on selective spinal angiography. Collecting T2*-weighted MR images during the passage of a gadolinium bolus gives information about perfusion and blood volume. We carried out dynamic MRI in seven patients with vascular abnormalities (5 dural AVFs, 1 intramedullary AVM, 1 cryptic angioma) and in two patients without an AVM. High resolution T1- and T2-weighted sagittal images of the whole spinal cord were first obtained using a multiarray receiver coil. Sagittal radiofrequency spoilt gradient echo images (GE34/25, flip angle 10 degrees) were then obtained during bolus injection of gadolinium-DTPA. Abnormalities were seen in all seven patients with AVFs or AVMs. In the patient with an intramedullary AVM and four of the five with dural AVFs transient signal reduction was seen within the perimedullary venous plexus during passage of the bolus. The findings correlated well with those from selective spinal angiography. We conclude that dynamic MRI offers a useful adjunct to angiography and may localise an arteriovenous shunt when conventional MRI fails to do so. In combination with high-resolution imaging of the entire spinal cord the technique may make myelography redundant; it is simple, well tolerated and can be carried out without significant time penalty.