Quantitative volumes of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain tissue were measured on magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of 287 individuals from 5 diagnostic groups: Alzheimer's disease (AD), chronic alcoholics (ALC), individuals positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), schizophrenia subjects (SZ), and normal comparison subjects (NC) older than 50 years of age. Within each group, mean volumes were calculated for ventricular CSF, cortical (sulcal) CSF, cortical gray matter, total white matter, basal ganglia gray matter, and thalamic gray matter. Correlations of CSF measures with brain tissue measures were determined, and multiple regression analyses were performed to try and predict volume of gray matter or white matter region from volume of CSF compartment. Results indicated the following: 1. Enlarged cortical fluid volume significantly predicts cortical gray matter deficits for subjects with AD and those who are ALC and SZ but not for subjects with HIV or NC. 2. Enlarged cortical fluid volume also significantly predicts white matter deficits in all five groups. 3. Enlarged ventricular fluid volume significantly predicts basal ganglia deficits in AD, HIV, and NC but not in SZ or ALC. 4. Enlarged ventricular volume has no predictive value for thalamic volume for any of the groups. This study supports the clinical practice of predicting brain tissue volume loss from CSF enlargement but not for all brain regions in all diagnoses.