The MR images of six patients with extraaxial empyemas (five subdural and four epidural) were reviewed and compared with CT scans. MR demonstrated convexity and interhemispheric collections, which were mildly hyperintense relative to CSF and hypointense relative to white matter on short TR pulse sequences and hyperintense relative to CSF and white matter on long TR pulse sequences, allowing distinction from sterile effusions and most chronic hematomas. A hypointense rim, representing displaced dura, was depicted at the interface between the lesion and brain in epidural empyemas, a feature absent in subdural empyemas. Inflammation-induced parenchymal abnormalities, including edema, mass effect, and reversible cortical hyperintensity, were well depicted on MR imaging. MR was superior to CT in demonstrating the presence, nature, and extent of these lesions in all cases. Because early and accurate diagnosis will significantly improve the prognosis of these serious infections, MR is preferred to CT for patients in whom an acute intracranial infection is suspected.