PURPOSE: To describe the abnormal gyral and sulcal patterns obtained by means of three-dimensional (3-D) surface-rendering MR imaging in patients with cerebral cortical disease. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirteen patients with cerebral cortical disease [M:F=9:4, aged 8 -55 (median, 26.6) years] underwent 3-D surface-rendering MR imaging. Seven had cortical dysplasia and six showed gyral atropic change, conditions which in all cases were pathologically confirmed. All were the subject of conventional brain MRI imaging studies using the MP-RAGE (magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo) sequence, and the resulting 3-D data sets were processed on a commercially available workstation. Abnormal gyral and suleal configurations were reviewed. RESULTS: Abnormal gyral and sulcal patterns were seen in all patients. In eight cases these involved the frontal lobe, in three the parietal lobe, and in two the sylvian fissure. In four patients with cortical dysplasia, conventional MR imaging revealed no cortical abnormality, but 3-D surface-rendering MRI indicated that the configuration and orientation of affected gyri and sulci were abnormal. In nine patients in whom an abnormal gyral pattern was revealed by conventional MRI, 3-D surface imaging confirmed the presence of a thick and enlarged gyrus, or that the configuration of affected gyri was atrophic and abnormal. CONCLUSION: In patients with cerebral cortical disease, 3-D surface-rendering MR imaging detects a high rate of abnormal gyral and sulcal patterns.