Monthly dual-echo spin-echo (SE) and enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after the injection of a standard dose (SD) of gadolinium (Gd) is the conventional approach to monitor short-term disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, the sensitivity of this approach in detecting active lesions in MS was compared with that of monthly fast fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) scans associated with enhanced MRI after the injection of a triple dose (TD) of Gd. Thirteen patients with relapsing-remitting MS entered the study. Monthly MRI scans were obtained on four occasions in two separate sessions (interval between 12 and 24 h). In one session, dual-echo conventional SE and SD Tl-weighted scans were obtained; in the other, fast-FLAIR and TD Tl-weighted scans. The order of the two sessions was randomized. Three observers counted the number of active lesions detected by each of the two approaches. One hundred and four active lesions were detected by the conventional approach and 199 by the newer approach (average increase per patient = 75%, range = 0-325%). The mean number of active lesions per month per patient was 2.0 for the conventional approach and 3.8 for the new approach (P = 0.004). Scans with active lesions were 34/52 (65%) with the conventional approach and 37/52 (71%) with the new approach. Our data indicate that the combined use of monthly fast-FLAIR and TD enhanced Tl-weighted scans increases the number of active lesions detected on serial MRI scans from patients with MS.