We have studied by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy the evolution of the proton spectral changes in acute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. We found an in vivo elevation in the ratio between the peaks assigned to "choline containing compounds" (Cho) and creatine plus phosphocreatine (Cr). This was associated with an increase in choline, betaine, and phosphorylcholine (PC) as well as a reduction in N-acetylaspartate (NAA), aspartate, N-acetylaspartatylglutamate and inositol in vitro. Histological examination revealed inflammation with no evidence of demyelination or neuronal loss. We conclude that the increase in the ratio of Cho:Cr was due to an increase in the concentrations of PC, betaine, and choline in association with inflammation, and not as others have suggested, with demyelination. The reported reduction in NAA may be due to dysfunction of neurones rather than their loss.