Two neuroradiologists compared the brain MR scans of 52 patients with the CDC criteria for the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) with those of 52 age and sex matched controls who had undergone imaging because of histories of head trauma or headache. CFS patients had significantly more abnormal scans than controls--27% vs 2%. Abnormalities seen were foci of increased white matter T2 signal in 9 CFS patients and one control and ventricular or sulcal enlargement in 5 CFS patients. Follow up of patients with subcortical signal hyperintensities revealed 3 who had symptoms suggestive of other known medical causes of what appeared to be CFS. The data indicate that some CFS patients have some organic problem manifesting itself on neuroimaging. But, finding MR abnormalities should warn the physician that the patient's symptoms may be secondary to some other medical illness and not simply primary CFS.