Multifocal T2*-weighted (T2*w) hypointensities in the basal ganglia, which are believed to arise predominantly from mineralized small vessels and perivascular spaces, have been proposed as a biomarker for cerebral small vessel disease. This study provides baseline data on their appearance on conventional structural MRI for improving and automating current manual segmentation methods. Using a published thresholding method, multifocal T2*w hypointensities were manually segmented from whole brain T2*w volumes acquired from 98 community-dwelling subjects in their early 70s. Connected component analysis was used to derive the average T2*w hypointensity count and load per basal ganglia nucleus, as well as the morphology of their connected components, while nonlinear spatial probability mapping yielded their spatial distribution. T1-weighted (T1w), T2-weighted (T2w) and T2*w intensity distributions of basal ganglia T2*w hypointensities and their appearance on T1w and T2w MRI were investigated to gain further insights into the underlying tissue composition. In 75/98 subjects, on average, 3 T2*w hypointensities with a median total volume per intracranial volume of 503 ppm were located in and around the globus pallidus. Individual hypointensities appeared smooth and spherical with a median volume of 12 mm(3) and median in-plane area of 4 mm(2). Spatial probability maps suggested an association between T2*w hypointensities and the point of entry of lenticulostriate arterioles into the brain parenchyma. T1w and T2w and especially the T2*w intensity distributions of these hypointensities, which were negatively skewed, were generally not normally distributed indicating an underlying inhomogeneous tissue structure. Globus pallidus T2*w hypointensities tended to appear hypo- and isointense on T1w and T2w MRI, whereas those from other structures appeared iso- and hypointense. This pattern could be explained by an increased mineralization of the globus pallidus. In conclusion, the characteristic spatial distribution and appearance of multifocal basal ganglia T2*w hypointensities in our elderly cohort on structural MRI appear to support the suggested association with mineralized proximal lenticulostriate arterioles and perivascular spaces. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.