We reviewed the MRI studies of 25 patients with occipital lobe infarcts to clarify the distribution of infarcts in the posterior cerebral arterial territory, focussing on their relationship to the striate cortex. Visual field defects and MRI findings were also correlated in 16 patients. On coronal and/or sagittal images, the distribution of the infarct and its relationship to the striate cortex were classified. Involvement of the cortex of both upper and lower lips of the calcarine fissure was observed in 10 patients, and involvement of the lower lip alone in 15. The upper cortical lesions were always accompanied by lower cortical lesions. The visual field defects were complete hemianopia in nine patients, superior quadrantanopia in six and hemianopia with a preserved temporal crescent in one. All patients with superior quadrantanopia had involvement of the lower cortex alone; there were no cases of inferior quadrantanopia. The characteristic vascular anatomy, and poor development of the collateral circulation in the lower cortical area, may explain the vulnerability of this area to infarcts.