The potential of multiparametric proton magnetic resonance (MR) measurements for characterizing white matter lesions was investigated. The authors compared acute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), which is distinguished by inflammatory lesions, with an immunologically potentiated hyperacute form of the disease in which demyelinating lesions (DEM) also are present. Tissue samples containing cervical spinal cord and brain stem were excised and in vitro measurements of T1, T2, and two components of T2 were performed. Discriminant analysis was applied using MR parameters singly and in various combinations. When the disease was clearly manifested, discrimination between treated and normal animals was satisfactory with single parameters. The use of biexponential T2 components improved the distinction of normal from treated but asymptomatic animals, and differentiated between EAE and DEM. These results suggest that improved characterization of white matter lesions is possible with multiparametric MR in vivo, especially if sampling is performed with imaging and the T2 decay curves are obtained with a sufficient number of echoes to perform biexponential analysis.