OBJECTIVES: (1) To study the prevalence and characteristics of large endolymphatic sac internal compartments on thin-section T2- and T2*-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, and to relate these to other large endolymphatic sac magnetic resonance imaging features, and (2) to correlate the compartment imaging features, endolymphatic sac size and labyrinthine anomalies with the patients' clinical and audiological data. METHOD: Magnetic resonance imaging studies for 38 patients with large endolymphatic sac anomalies were retrospectively reviewed in a tertiary referral centre. Endolymphatic sac compartment presence, morphology and imaging signal were assessed. Endolymphatic sac size and labyrinthine anomalies were also recorded. Endolymphatic sac compartments and other imaging features were correlated with clinical and audiological data. RESULTS: Compartments were present in 57 per cent of the imaged endolymphatic sacs, but their presence alone did not correlate with other imaging features or clinical data. The endolymphatic sac : internal auditory meatus signal ratio was associated with a history of sudden or fluctuating hearing loss. Hearing loss correlated with opercular and extraosseous endolymphatic sac size measurements. A larger midpoint intraosseous endolymphatic sac size was associated with clear fluid loss at cochlear implantation. CONCLUSION: The magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of large endolymphatic sac compartments have been defined. The endolymphatic sac size and distal compartment signal should be recorded, as these provide prognostic information and assist the planning of appropriate interventions.