Contusion-type spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice was followed longitudinally using in vivo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging along with neurobehavioral tests performed on postinjury Days 1, 7, 14 and 28. Magnetic resonance images were acquired from seven injured wild-type mice using a 9.4-T scanner and presented in sagittal and axial views to reflect the current state of the injured cord neuropathology on each day. The data were analyzed individually to gain more insights on the neuroinflammatory response unique to the mouse, to characterize the spatiotemporal evolution of the lesion and to quantify the changes in lesion volume and length with time. The MR intensity patterns on Day I showed acute injuries as focal in one group of three mice and as diffuse in the remaining group of four mice. The focal injuries appeared as a region of hypointensity with well-defined boundaries. These injuries first enlarged on Day 7, but then shrunk slightly by Days 14 and 28. In contrast, the diffuse injuries were initially obscure on Day 1, mainly because of loss of contrast between gray and white matters. On Day 7, lesions expanded asymptotically in both rostral and caudal directions with respect to the epicenter, and maintained its size on Days 14 and 28. Previous studies based on postmortem histological analysis have reported lesions behaving more like in the focal group. However. this new injury with diffuse characteristics may have important implications for SCI research carried out with mice. Unique experiments on gonetically engineered mice with altered neuroinflammatory response should help clarify the origin of these differences in the lesion formation. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.