Twenty-one patients with an acute complete peripheral facial palsy, Bell's palsy, were examined by medium- and high-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging. Three contrast techniques were used: intravenous gadolinium; oral carbohydrate and intravenous gadolinium; and gadolinium, carbohydrate, and readministration of gadolinium. Three to 22 days after the onset of palsy, 12 of the 21 patients demonstrated ipsilateral facial nerve enhancement, most consistently in the meatal region, which is indicative of an inflammatory reaction. Two to 4.5 months after the onset, the enhancement had disappeared in 10 of the 12 patients. For the individual patient, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging gave little or no help in predicting the outcome of palsy. It is speculated that the intake of carbohydrate and readministration of gadolinium may improve the sensitivity of medium-high-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging in some cases.