In this study quantitation of the degree of deficiency of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with multiple sclerosis or brain tumors, by using MRI, is shown to be possible. As a measure of permeability of the BBB to Gadolinium-DTPA (Gd-DTPA) the flux per unit of distribution volume per unit of brain mass was used. This quantity was found by introducing the longitudinal relaxation rate (R1) as a measure of concentration of Gd-DTPA in the brain tissue in the mathematical model for the transcapillary transport over the BBB. High accordance between the observed data points and the model was found, and the results were comparable to results obtained from similar studies using positron emission tomography. The improved possibility of quantitating the defect of the BBB by MRI may give new information about pathogenesis or etiology, and leads to improved methods in monitoring the efficacy of treatments in intracranial diseases. © 1990 Academic Press, Inc.