Nineteen patients with evidence of psoas and iliopsoas abnormalities on computed tomographic (CT) scans (12 with metastases, three with lymphoma, two with hematoma, and two with abscess) were examined with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The abnormal psoas could be identified on both T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo images, although T2-weighted sequences provided better contrast. The psoas muscle can be affected by one of three mechanisms: total replacement, lateral displacement, or medial displacement. In four patients in whom the CT study showed apparent enlargement of a psoas muscle, subsequent MR imaging examinations demonstrated that the psoas muscle was compressed and displaced laterally by a paraspinal mass. MR images provided better contrast between the normal and abnormal psoas than CT scans in nine cases; MR images were inferior to CT scans in two cases because calcifications (one case) and air bubbles within an abscess (one case) were not detectable.