A more favorable clinical course in early-onset (EO) multiple sclerosis (MS) than adult-onset (AO) disease is reported. Our aim was to assess white matter with/without lesions by magnetization transfer (MT) imaging in EO and AO MS patients matched for duration of the disease. Relapsing-remitting MS patients with disease onset at age a parts per thousand currency sign18 years and > 18 years (n = 11 for each) were matched according to sex, age, disease duration, and 22 sex-and age-matched healthy subjects were studied with MT imaging. MT ratios (MTR) of manually outlined ROIs from T1-hypointense, T1-isointense lesions and perilesional normal appearing white matter (NAWM) as well as NAWM of the left frontal lobe of the patients and healthy subjects were calculated. MTR differences between two patient groups and control subjects, and correlation of MTR with EDSS, disease onset age, disease duration and relapse rate were analyzed statistically. In comparison with NAWM of the patients and healthy subjects, the greatest MTR reductions were observed in T1-hypointense lesions followed by T1-isointense lesions and perilesional NAWM, respectively, in EO and AO MS. Both groups' NAWM MTR were reduced; greater and more significantly in EO patients. No correlation was found between MTR of any ROI and EDSS, duration of the disease, disease onset age, or relapse rate. Although normalization does not occur, abnormality of white matter in MS decreases as distance from the lesions increases. Greater NAWM abnormality in EO MS may relate to inherent myelin abnormalities and different repair/reorganization processes in this particular group.