High resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was applied to quantify alterations in thymus and adrenal volumes, as well as body fat in genetically engineered corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-overexpressing mice. When compared to the organs in age-matched wild-type animals, the adrenals in CRF-overexpressing male mice were significantly enlarged and the thymus volume in females was significantly smaller. The fat content was significantly larger in CRF-overexpressing mice. The anatomical alterations observed in the MRI studies were in perfect line with post-mortem data (weights of organs). Furthermore, the observed interstrain differences are in agreement with recently published data on (i) the effect of continuous, intraventricular infusion of CRF in rats and (ii) the presence of atrophic adrenals in CRF-knockout mice. The present studies demonstrate that MRI can provide reliable measures of relatively small structures such as the adrenal glands and the thymus in mice. This makes MRI an attractive, non-terminal tool to monitor in laboratory animals, including transgenic mice, the consequence of continuous stress on relevant organs. Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.