Abstract Deformation-based morphometry (DBM) is a useful technique to detect morphological differences over the entire brain since it analyses positional differences between every voxel and a standard brain. In this report we compare DBM to semimanual tracing of brain ventricles in a population of 39 patients with schizophrenia. High-resolution T 1-weighted magnetic resonance images were obtained and processed with DBM and interactive tracing software. We evaluate the validity of the DBM in two different approaches. First, we divide subjects into two groups based on the mean ventricular/brain ratios and compute statistical maps of displacement vectors and their spatial derivatives. This analysis demonstrates a striking consistency of the DBM and visual tracing results. We show that restricting the information about the deformation fields by computing the local Jacobian determinant (as a measure of volume change) provides evidence of the shape of ventricular deformation which is unavailable from ventricular volume measures alone. Second, we compute a mean measure of the Jacobian values over the entire ventricles and observe a correlation of r = 0.962 with visual tracing based ventricular/brain ratios. The results support the usefulness and validity of DBM for the local and global examination of brain morphology.