The potential of quantitative parameter images of the relaxation times T1 and T2, the proton density rho and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) to characterize three different experimental rat brain tumors (F98 glioma, RN6 Schwannoma, and E376 neuroblastoma) was studied. All parameter values, as determined in histologically confirmed regions of interest (ROI), were higher in edema than in tumor, which in turn were elevated with respect to normal brain. ROI values of ADC and T2 delivered statistically significant (P < 0.01) differentiation between tumor and edema. Multidimensional parameter combinations improved differentiation between different tissues. However, the three tumor types could not be differentiated. All parameter maps allowed the identification of the whole tumor-edema area. On T2 images, edema could be identified best, whereas the tumor itself was hardly visualized. In many cases, tumor presentation using T1 maps corresponded best with histology, nevertheless suffering from a poor tumor-edema differentiation.