Multiple samples from 42 astrocytomas were investigated ex vivo by 1H MR spectroscopy followed by histological assessment. MR visible lipids were detected in 27 of 32 grade 4 astrocytomas. These lipids were heterogeneously distributed within the tumours. Their amount correlated positively with the amount of histologically detected necrosis. Mobile lipids were also observed in grade 4 astrocytoma samples without necrosis, as well as in one of three grade 3, two of three grade 2 and two of four grade 1 astrocytomas. The clinical significance of MR visible lipids, their cellular location, and their possible biological bases are discussed.