Performance of automated methods to isolate brain from nonbrain tissues in magnetic resonance (MR) structural images may be influenced by MR signal inhomogeneities, type of MR image set, regional anatomy, and age and diagnosis of subjects studied. The present study compared the performance of four methods: Brain Extraction Tool (BET; Smith : Hum Brain Mapp 17:143-155); 3dIntracranial (Ward  Milwaukee: Biophysics Research Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin; in AFNI); a Hybrid Watershed algorithm (HWA, Segonne et al.  Neuroimage 22:1060-1075; in FreeSurfer); and Brain Surface Extractor (BSE, Sandor and Leahy  IEEE Trans Med Imag 16:41-54; Shattuck et al.  Neuroimage 13:856-876) to manually stripped images. The methods were applied to uncorrected and bias-corrected datasets; Legacy and Contemporary T-1-weighted image sets; and four diagnostic groups (depressed, Alzheimer's, young and elderly control). To provide a criterion for outcome assessment, two experts manually stripped six sagittal sections for each dataset in locations where brain and nonbrain tissue are difficult to distinguish. Methods were compared on Jaccard similarity coefficients, Hausdorff distances, and an Expectation-Maximization algorithm. Methods tended to perform better on contemporary datasets; bias correction did not significantly improve method performance. Mesial sections were most difficult for all methods. Although AD image sets were most difficult to strip, HWA and BSE were more robust across diagnostic groups compared with 3dIntracranial and BET. With respect to specificity, BSE tended to perform best across all groups, whereas HWA was more sensitive than other methods. The results of this study may direct users towards a method appropriate to their T-1-weighted datasets and improve the efficiency of processing for large, multisite neuroimaging studies.