The effects of white and gray matter diffusion anisotropy on ischemic lesion delineation have been studied in the rat model of middle cerebral artery occlusion. Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps obtained by conventional pulsed gradient spin echo diffusion-weighted imaging (PGSE-DWI) were compared with maps of the trace of the diffusion tensor in both normal and occluded animals. Diffusion tensor trace maps were derived from the average of the ADC maps from three separate experiments with diffusion weighting along three orthogonal axes, and also from a single-scan method. A marked degree of diffusion anisotropy was observed in both cortical gray matter and white matter from ADC maps of the control animals. In the occluded animals, the systematic effects of anisotropy on ADC and lesion area influenced the delineation of the ischemic territory in the PGSE-DWI ADC maps. However, the two trace methods eliminated these effects and gave consistent ischemic lesion depiction, despite the use of differing diffusion times in the two measurements.