OBJECTIVE To evaluate the value of the preoperative T staging of laryngeal cancer by MRI. METHODS The MRI data of 59 cases of laryngeal cancer were retrospectively staged, and compared with the findings of laryngoscopy and postsurgical pathologic staging. RESULTS The accuracy of staging in each T stage of laryngeal cancer was: T1:95% (20/21), T2:88% (15/17), T3:85% (11/13) T4:100% (8/8) by MRI, vs T1:91% (19/21), T2:88% (15/17), T3:47% (8/13), T4:13% (1/8) by laryngoscopy. The total accuracy of MRI vs laryngoscopy was 92% (54/59) vs 73%(43/59). P < 0.01. CONCLUSION MRI can correctly depict the invasion of the preepiglottic space (PES), paraglottic space (PGS) and cartilage by laryngeal cancer and can greatly improve the accuracy of preoperative staging. It was considered that MRI of great importance in determining appropriate therapy for laryngeal cancer.