In adult schizophrenia, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) have revealed volumetric and metabolic defects in multiple brain regions, among them the anterior cingulate, frontal cortex, striatum, thalamus, parietal cortex, and frontal and parietal white matter. This study used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (H-1 MRSI) to identify potential metabolic abnormalities in these regions in childhood-onset schizophrenia. H-1 MRSI was acquired at 1.5 T and 272 ins echo time in 11 children and adolescents with schizophrenia (aged 7-18 years; seven boys, four girls; all but two medicated) and 20 age-matched healthy controls (10 boys, 10 girls). Absolute levels of N-acetyl compounds (NAA), creatine plus phosphocreatine (Cr), and choline compounds (Cho) were compared among groups in each region. In schizophrenic patients relative to controls, Cr was 14.3% higher in superior anterior cingulate (mean of left and right hemispheres). Cho was higher in superior anterior cingulate (30.3%), frontal cortex (13.3%), and caudate head (13.5%). In the thalamus, there was also a diagnosis-by-gender interaction, whereby NAA was lower in patients for male but not for female subjects. Elevated Cr suggests abnormal local cell-energy demand and elevated Cho is consistent with a prior proposal that patients with early age-of-onset schizophrenia exhibit phospholipid membrane disturbances. Low NAA may reflect diminished neuronal integrity. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.