We performed a prospective study using MRI to evaluate early necrosis of the femoral head in 48 patients receiving high-dose corticosteroids for the treatment of various autoimmune-related disorders. The mean interval from the initiation of corticosteroid therapy to the first MRI examination was 2 months (0.5 to 6). MRI was repeated, and the mean period of follow-up was 31 months (24 to 69). Abnormalities were found on MRI in 31 hips (32%). The initial changes showed well-demarcated, band-like zones which were seen at a mean of 3.6 months after initiation of treatment with steroids. In 14 of these hips (45%) there was a spontaneous reduction in the size of the lesions about one year after treatment had started, but there was no further change in size with a longer follow-up.