Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS) is characterised by ophthalmoplegia, ataxia and areflexia. Reports on cerebellar ataxia and supranuclear oculomotor derangement in MFS suggested an additional involvement of the central nervous system (CNS), resembling Bickerstaff's brainstem encephalitis (BBE). In the present report, a patient with a monophasic acute illness, early recovery and specific clinical-laboratory findings suggested both intrinsic brainstem and peripheral nerve disease (MFS and BBE). In pons and medulla oblangata, blurred to discrete T2-lesions were revealed by cranial MRI, while involvement of peripheral nerves was detected with EMG. The CSF showed no increase in protein or cell content, such as occurs in brainstem encephalitis. D 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.