In a prospective study, proton (1H) and phosphorus (31P) nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were used to search for effects of brain tumor radiotherapy on normal human central nervous system. Phosphorus spectroscopy data at 1.5 T seems to suggest that any radiation induced damage that may occur as a result of therapeutic brain irradiation, does not alter the relative concentrations of phosphorus metabolites or the intracellular pH beyond the limits of normal variation (approximately +/- 20%). Proton spectroscopy, on the other hand, detects post radiation changes in the ratios of certain nuclear magnetic resonance visible metabolites following radiotherapy, particularly choline/N-acetylaspartate, and especially in regions of brain receiving high doses of radiation. Such changes may be indicative of the release of membrane bound choline during radiation induced demyelination of brain. Of interest, we have found elevated metabolite ratios of 31P in normal central nervous system prior to radiotherapy, which persisted throughout the time span of the study in both the ipsilateral and contralateral cerebral hemispheres.