Our purpose was to document the MRI appearances of the brain in healthy middle-aged to elderly subjects. T2- and proton density-weighted axial slices were obtained in 61 volunteers, 30-86 years of age. After visual inspection, signal intensities of brain structures were measured on T2-weighted images. Age-related changes became increasingly apparent after age 50. The main findings were that signal intensity of the white matter increased concomitantly with widening of the cerebrospinal fluid spaces; that basal ganglia remained stable; that high-signal foci in white matter increased in number and size after the age of 50 years; that periventricular high-signal foci were constant after the age of 65 years. Our visual impression of a decrease in signal intensity of the central grey matter with age seems to be mistaken. Pathological processes should be suspected if periventricular foci are found in middle-aged or young subjects.