Our purpose was to investigate the potential of dynamic susceptibility contrast-enhanced MRI in assessing regional haemodynamics in patients with cerebrovascular disease. T2*-weighted FLASH sequences were performed on a control group of 10 healthy subjects, 13 patients with unilateral stenosis or occlusion of the internal carotid artery and 6 patients with acute onset of neurological symptoms, the observed signal intensities being converted into concentration-time curves. A gamma-variate function was fitted to the measured concentration-time curves to eliminate effects of tracer recirculation. In each patient the two cerebral hemispheres were compared and the difference between the mean transit times and the percental change of the regional cerebral blood volume, calculated for each side. Patients with haemodynamically significant unilateral carotid obstruction can be divided into two subgroups: those with good and those with poor collateral supply. Patients with good collateral supply had a slight but not statistically significant increase in mean transit time and cerebral blood volume on the diseased side, whereas those with poor collaterals had a significant increase compared with the control group. In patients with acute onset of neurological symptoms perfusion maps clearly demonstrated the disturbed perfusion at a time when T2-weighted images were still normal. Perfusion imaging is a reliable and noninvasive method of assessing changes in cerebral perfusion in patients with unilateral carotid stenosis. This MR technique permits monitoring of haemodynamic changes during therapy and thus may become an alternative to SPECT and PET scanning. In patients with acute occlusion of a cerebral artery, perfusion imaging reveals the entire, perfusion deficit before conventional MRI and thus allows early intervention.