PURPOSE: To determine MR criteria for differentiating adamantinous from squamous-papillary craniopharyngiomas. METHODS: The MR imaging features of 42 histologically proved craniopharyngiomas (25 adamantinous, 15 squamous-papillary, and two mixed subtypes) were examined with multiplanar T2-weighted and noncontrast and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted imaging. Differences in the mR features of both subtypes were evaluated retrospectively. RESULTS: The adamantinous craniopharyngioma is a mixed solid-cystic or mainly cystic lobulated suprasellar or intrasellar/suprasellar tumor occurring in children and adults, typically with large nonenhancing hyperintense cysts on T1-weighted images. The squamous-papillary craniopharyngioma is a predominantly solid or mixed solid-cystic suprasellar tumor occurring in adults, appearing as a hypointense cyst on noncontrast T1-weighted images. Calcifications and recurrent tumors are more often observed in adamantinous tumors but can be seen in squamous-papillary tumors as well. Statistically significant parameters useful for differentiating the two tumor subtypes are the encasement of vessels, the lobulated shape, and the presence of hyperintense cysts in adamantinous tumors, and the round shape, the presence of hypointense cysts, and the predominantly solid appearance in squamous-papillary tumors. CONCLUSION: Craniopharyngiomas can be divided into two clinically, histologically different subtypes, which suggests a different pathogenesis of these two types of tumor.