Fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) sequences have been reported to provide high sensitivity to a wide range of central nervous system diseases. To our knowledge, however, FLAIR sequences have not been used to study patients with acute cerebral infarcts. We evaluated the usefulness of FLAIR sequences in this context. FLAIR sequences were acquired on a 0.5 T superconducting unit within 8 h of the onset in 19 patients (aged 26-80 years) with a total of 23 ischaemic lesions. The images were reviewed retrospectively by three neuroradiologists, and the FLAIR images were compared with T2-weighted fast spin-echo images. All but one of the ischaemic lesions involving grey matter was clearly demonstrated on FLAIR images as increased signal intensity in cortical or central grey matter. FLAIR images were particularly useful for detecting the hyperacute cortical infarcts within 3 h of onset, which were not readily detected on the spin-echo images. In 9 of 11 patients with complete proximal occlusion, the distal portion of the cerebral artery was visible as an area of high signal intensity on FLAIR images.