In a comparative randomized double-blind study, 73 patients underwent myelography using iopamidol (36 patients) or metrizamide (37 patients) as contrast medium. The overall diagnostic adequacy of iopamidol myelography was found to be comparable to that of metrizamide myelography. The incidence of examinations graded as superior (64%) or adequate (36%) with iopamidol was equivalent to that with metrizamide (57% superior, 43% adequate). Adverse reactions after iopamidol myelography were fewer, less severe, and generally of shorter duration than those associated with metrizamide. In the iopamidol group, adverse reactions occurred in nine (25%) patients, all of whom experienced mild or moderate headache, one with nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In the metrizamide group, adverse reactions occurred in 17 (46%) patients, all of whom experienced mild or moderate headache, six with nausea and vomiting and four with back and leg pain. Of nine individuals who underwent myelography using 300 mg l/ml metrizamide injected via lateral C1-C2 puncture, three experienced a toxic encephalopathy with confusion, dysphasia, headache, nausea, and vomiting, and a fourth individual suffered severe nausea, vomiting, fever, and irregular pulse. Encephalopathy was not observed in any of the 11 patients in whom myelography was performed via lateral C1-C2 puncture with a similar concentration of iopamidol. No seizures were encountered, and no clinically significant changes in laboratory studies were observed with either contrast medium.