It is well known that brain structures correlate with intelligence but the association between the integrity of brain white matter tracts and intelligence in patients with mental retardation (MR) and healthy adults remains unknown. The aims of this study are to investigate whether the integrity of corpus callosum (CC), cingulum, uncinate fasciculus (UF), optic radiation (OR) and corticospinal tract (CST) are damaged in patients with MR, and to determine the correlations between the integrity of these tracts and full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) in both patients and controls. Fifteen MR patients and 79 healthy controls underwent intelligence tests and diffusion tensor imaging examinations. According to the FSIQ, all healthy controls were divided into general intelligence (GI: FSIQ<120; n=42) and high intelligence (HI: FSIQ> or =120; n=37) groups. Intelligence was assessed by Chinese Revised Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, and white matter tract integrity was assessed by fractional anisotropy (FA). MR patients showed significantly lower FA than healthy controls in the CC, UF, OR and CST. However, GI subjects only demonstrated lower FA than HI subjects in the right UF. Partial correlation analysis controlling for age and sex showed that FSIQ scores were significantly correlated with the FA of the bilateral UF, genu and truncus of CC, bilateral OR and left CST. While FSIQ scores were only significantly correlated with the FA of the right UF when further controlling for group. This study indicate that MR patients show extensive damage in the integrity of the brain white matter tracts, and the right UF is an important neural basis of human intelligence.