Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) is a relatively new method in which the images are formed by the contrast produced by the random microscopic motion of water molecules in different tissues. Although DWI has been tried for different organ systems, it has been found its primary use in the central nervous system. The most widely used clinical application is in the detection of hyperacute infarcts and the differentiation of acute or subacute infarction from chronic infarction. Recently DWI has been applied to various other cerebral diseases. In this pictorial paper the authors demonstrated different DWI patterns of non-infarct lesions of the brain which are hyperintense in the diffusion trace image, such as infectious, neoplastic and demyelinating diseases, encephalopathies - including hypoxic-ischemic, hypertensive, eclamptic, toxic, metabolic and mitochondrial encephalopathies - leukodystrophies, vasculitis and vasculopathies, hemorrhage and trauma. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.