We report assessment of a new three-dimensional fast spin echo (3D FSE) sequence in ten patients with clinically definite multiple sclerosis, comparing it with standard 2D FSE, and in ten normal controls. We saw 29 focal lesions on the 2D images and 53 on the 3D FSE images (P = 0.05); none were seen in controls. Lesion length was significantly smaller on the 3D FSE than on to the 2D FSE images (3D: 1.36; 2D 2.0; P = 0.03). This may relate in part to separation into several lesions on the 3D images of confluent abnormal signal seen on 2D and in part to detection of small lesions missed by the thicker 2D FSE slices (3 mm compared to 1.5 mm). The 3D FSE sequence looks promising in improving spinal cord imaging.