During the 1990s, novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have emerged that allow the noninvasive and rapid assessment of normal brain functioning and cerebral pathophysiology. Some of these techniques, including diffusion-weighted imaging and perfusion-weighted imaging, have already been used extensively in specialized centers for the evaluation of patients with cerebrovascular disease. Evidence is now rapidly accumulating that both diffusion- and perfusion-weighted imaging, particularly when used in combination with high-speed MR angiography, will lead to improvements in the clinical management of acute stroke patients. Other novel MR techniques, such as spectroscopic imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, and blood oxygenation level-dependent functional MRI, have not yet assumed a definitive role in the diagnostic evaluation of cerebrovascular disease. However, they are promising research tools that provide noninvasive data about infarct evolution as well as mechanisms of stroke recovery. In this article, we review the basic principles underlying these novel MRI techniques and outline their current and anticipated future impact on the diagnosis and management of patients with cerebrovascular disease.