To investigate the value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in determining the parent nerves of neurogenic tumors in the thoracic inlet, analysis of MR images was performed in nine patients with surgically resected neurogenic tumors in the thoracic inlet (two neurofibromas and one schwannoma of the vagus nerve, three schwannomas of the brachial plexus, and two schwannomas and one ganglioneuroma of the sympathetic nerves). These MR images were compared with surgical and pathologic findings. The multidirectional capability and excellent tissue contrast of MRI facilitated recognition of the location, shape, and extent of the tumors. MRI, which permitted an easy understanding of the spatial relation between the tumors and the subclavian vessels, scalenus muscles, and brachial plexus, was useful in determining the nerves of origin. Two neurofibromas, four of six schwannomas, and one ganglioneuroma were recognized to extend along the axes of the parent nerves on MR images. MRI is useful in determining the parent nerve of neurogenic tumors in the thoracic inlet and is helpful in planning surgical treatment of these tumors.