The purpose of our study was to review the MR characteristics of acute transverse myelitis (ATM) retrospectively and to review the literature. The subjects were 26 patients (two males, 24 females). MR examinations were carried out using a 1.5 Tesla scanner. MR imaging in eight of 16 lesions in nine subjects with preexisting MS showed multiple areas of increased signal intensity on T2-weighted sagittal images, and 11 lesions had no cord swelling. Twelve of 16 lesions showed heterogeneous enhancement. MR imaging in 10 of 13 lesions in 12 subjects with preexisting HTLV-1 infection, mycoplasma pneumonia infection, hepatitis B vaccinations, and uncertain etiologies revealed fusiform increased signal intensity areas on T2-weighted sagittal images and cord swelling. Seven of 11 lesions in the patients who underwent injection of contrast medium showed heterogeneous enhancement, whereas others showed no enhancement. MR examination is recommended for the evaluation of ATM.