Regional variations in proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) were assessed in 26 patients and 14 healthy volunteers using a two dimensional chemical shift imaging technique. Patients were classified as being neuropsychiatrically unimpaired, or as having subclinical or overt chronic hepatic encephalopathy (CHE). Peak area ratios of choline (Cho), glutamine and glutamate (Glx) and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) relative to creatine (Cr) were measured. Significant reductions in mean Cho/Cr and elevations in mean Glx/Cr were observed in the patient population, which correlated with the severity of CHE. There were significant regional variations in these metabolite ratios with the mean Cho/Cr lowest in the occipital cortex and the mean Glx/Cr highest in the basal ganglia. NAA/Cr remained relatively constant in all areas of the brain analysed. The regional variation in the metabolite ratios suggests that spectral information from more than one voxel may be useful in the assessment of patients with CHE.