BACKGROUND: The 2005 and 2010 McDonald criteria utilize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide evidence of disease dissemination in space (DIS) and time (DIT) for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in patients who have clinically isolated syndromes (CIS). METHODS: Data from 109 CIS patients not satisfying the 2005 criteria at entry into a randomized controlled minocycline trial were analyzed to determine the proportion who would have been diagnosed with MS at screening based on 2010 criteria. The impact of including symptomatic, as well as asymptomatic, MRI lesions to confirm DIT was also explored. RESULTS: Thirty percent (33/109) of patients, retrospectively, met the 2010 criteria for a diagnosis of MS at baseline. When both symptomatic and asymptomatic lesions were used to confirm DIT, three additional patients met the 2010 criteria. There was a significant 10.1% increase in the proportion of patients who met the 2010 DIS criteria, compared with the 2005 DIS criteria; however, two patients satisfied the 2005 DIS but not 2010 DIS criteria. CONCLUSION: Using 2010 McDonald criteria, 30% of the CIS patients could be diagnosed with MS using a single MRI scan. Inclusion of symptomatic lesions in the DIT criteria further increases this proportion to 33%.