Abstract Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is the primary experimental model of multiple sclerosis (MS), which involves both inflammation and demyelination and is known to be species-dependent. Spinal cord abnormalities were found in more than 80% of postmortem specimens of MS patients. In the present study, T 1, T 2 and high b-value q-space diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were used, for the first time, to characterize the EAE model in excised swine spinal cords. The MR images were compared with histological staining and clinical scoring. Although all spinal cords were excised from swine with severe or very severe (clinical score between 3 to 5 on a scale of 5) motor impairments, T 1- and T 2-weighted MRI revealed white matter (WM) abnormalities in only five of the ten EAE diseased spinal cords studied, while high b-value q-space diffusion weighted MRI ( q-space DWI) detected WM abnormalities in all diseased spinal cords studied. Interestingly, high b-value q-space DWI was able to detect abnormalities in the normal appearing white matter (NAWM) even in spinal cords where no plaques were identified by the T 1- and T 2-weighted MR images. Good anatomical correlation was observed between the high b-value q-space MR images and histology. The extent of DWI abnormalities paralleled the clinical scoring and correlated with histology. In addition, areas classified as NAWM by the T 1- and T 2-weighted MR images that showed abnormalities in the q-space DWI were also found to have abnormal histology. This improved detection level of the EAE model by high b-value q-space DWI over conventional T 1-, and T 2-weighted MRI is briefly discussed.