An etiologic evaluation of 86 patients with infantile spasms is presented and the place of cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings within this spectrum. is discussed. A total of 103 cranial MRIs, performed between 4 and 72 months of age, were analyzed and classified according to the etiologic and pathophysiologic aspects. Ninety-one percent of cases were diagnosed as symptomatic infantile spasms, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy was the primary cause (30%). The most common involvement was thinning of the corpus callosum in 43 patients (50%), followed by dilation of cerebral ventricles in 32 (36%), delayed myelination in 23 (26.7%), lesions of diencephalic deep gray matter in 17 (19.7%), and enlargement of the subarachnoid space in 12 (14%). Thin corpus callosum and diffuse atrophy were changes mainly associated with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, whereas delayed myelination seemed to be independent from a specific etiology. The results showed that cranial MRI may provide considerable information regarding not only the etiology but also the pathophysiology of infantile spasms. (J Child Neurol 2003; 18:241-246).