The short tau inversion recovery fast spin-echo pulse sequence (fast STIR) combines the synergistic T1 and T2 contrast mechanism of conventional STIR with the reduced imaging time of fast spin-echo (FSE). We have compared fast STIR with T2-weighted FSE in evaluating the spinal cord lesions in 17 patients with multiple sclerosis and 12 healthy controls. Intrinsic lesions were seen only in patients. Twenty-five of the 58 lesions identified were more clearly demonstrated by fast STIR, 22 by FSE. Signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios were higher in all cases on FSE, suggesting other mechanisms, in particular choice of window settings and brightness of surrounding structures, must play a part in lesion conspicuousness. Fast STIR is a useful adjunct to FSE in the evaluation of multiple sclerosis in the spinal cord.