Intracranial lipomas are uncommon lesions whose development remains poorly understood. To clarify the anatomic and embryologic features of intracranial lipomas, we retrospectively reviewed the MR scans of 42 patients with 44 intracranial lipomas. Interhemispheric lipomas were the most common, accounting for 45% of cases. The remainder of the lesions were clustered in the quadrigeminal/superior cerebellar (25%), suprasellar/interpeduncular (14%), cerebellopontine angle (9%), an sylvian (5%) cisterns. Fifty-five percent of the lesions were associated with brain malformations of varying degrees. Intracranial vessels and nerves were noted to course through 16 (36%) of the lesions. The relative frequencies of the locations of the lipomas correspond to the temporal sequence of dissolution of the meninx primitiva, the mesenchymal anlage of the meninges. This finding supports the concept of lipoma formation as a result of abnormal persistence and maldifferentiation of the meninx. This embryologic concept of the development of intracranial lipomas explains the high frequency of callosal and other brain hypoplasias. Intracranial lipomas are neither hamartomas nor true neoplasms; rather, they are congenital malformations.