BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Defects at the skull base leading to spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea are rare lesions. The purpose of our study was to correlate CT and MR findings regarding the location and content of CSF leaks in 27 patients with endoscopic sinus surgery observations. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Imaging studies in 27 patients with intermittent CSF rhinorrhea (CT in every patient including 10 examinations with intrathecal contrast, plain CT in 2 patients, and MR in 15 patients) were analyzed and were retrospectively blinded to intraoperative findings. RESULTS: CT depicted a small endoscopy-confirmed osseous defect in 3 different locations: 1) within the ethmoid in 15 instances (53.6% of defects) most commonly at the level of the anterior ethmoid artery (8/15); 2) adjacent to the inferolateral recess of the sphenoid sinus in 7 patients including one patient with bilateral lesions (8/28 defects, 28.6%); 3) within the midline sphenoid sinus in 5 of 28 instances (17.9%). Lateral sphenoid defects (3.5 +/- 0.80 mm) were larger than those in ethmoid (2.7 +/- 0.77 mm, P < or = 0.029) or midsphenoid location (2.4 +/- 0.65 mm, P < or = 0.026). With endoscopy proven arachnoid herniation in 24 instances as reference, MR was correct in 14 of 15 instances (93.3%), CT cisternography in 5 of 8 instances (62.5%). Plain CT in 1 patient was negative. CONCLUSION: In patients with a history of spontaneous CSF rhinorrhea, CT was required to detect osseous defects at specific sites of predilection. MR enabled differentiating the contents of herniated tissue and allowed identification of arachnoid tissue as a previously hardly recognized imaging finding.