Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate brain white matter abnormalities by using diffusion tensor imaging in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder close to illness onset. Method: Ten patients experiencing a first episode of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 13 healthy volunteers received diffusion tensor imaging and structural magnetic resonance imaging examinations. Voxel-wise analysis was used to compare fractional anisotropy maps in the white matter of the two groups following intersubject registration to Talairach space. Results: Compared with healthy volunteers, patients demonstrated lower fractional anisotropy in the left internal capsule and left-hemisphere white matter of the middle frontal gyrus and posterior superior temporal gyrus. There were no areas of significantly higher fractional anisotropy in patients compared with healthy volunteers. Conclusions: These findings suggest that white matter pathology is present early in the course of schizophrenia and may be less pronounced than has been found in previous diffusion tensor imaging studies of patients with chronic illness. Further, these data are consistent with hypotheses regarding frontotemporal dysfunction and the failure of left-hemisphere lateralization in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.