Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has recently been demonstrated to be sensitive to changes in neuronal activity of cortical areas. We report our initial experiences with functional MR brain mapping at high spatial resolution using a conventional whole-body MR system. A total of 10 visual and motor cortex activation studies were carried out on 8 healthy volunteers. In each examination, a time course series of 15 strongly T2*-weighted FLASH images was measured from three adjacent slices. The image analysis revealed a subtle but highly significant signal increase in cortical layers of gray matter in primary and associative visual as well as sensorimotoric cortex regions during periods of excessive brain activity provoked by photic stimuli or motoric tasks, respectively. To correlate brain structure and brain function, the computed MR brain activation maps were directly superimposed on T1-weighted anatomic spin-echo images. With this advance into the area of functional neuroimaging, MRI is moving into an established domain of positron emission tomography (PET). We, therefore, discuss the advantages and limitations of the MR method in comparison to PET as far as this can be done at present.