Untreated neoplasms of the neck (tumors of the oropharynx, supraglottic area, carotid body, and thyroid, in addition to malignant lymphadenopathy) were evaluated in 23 patients with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The results were compared with computed tomographic (CT) scans in 20 patients. Contrast between tumor and fat was best on relatively T1-weighted images (500/30-35 [TR msec/TE msec]), whereas separation of tumor and muscle was best with relatively T2-weighted pulse sequences (1,500/90). Balanced images (1,500/30-35) provided best overall image quality and best demonstrated vascular anatomy. MR imaging was usually superior to CT in showing the relationship of tumor mass to muscle. MR imaging and contrast material-enhanced CT were equivalent in most patients in defining vascular anatomy, but MR imaging was superior when intravenous contrast material was not administered. However, CT was more helpful in showing bone and cartilage anatomy, and in some patients CT also was better in showing airway abnormalities. Despite these limitations, MR imaging is a promising imaging technique for studying neoplasms of the neck.