Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed on the wrists of 103 asymptomatic volunteers. The images were evaluated independently by two musculoskeletal radiologists and one orthopaedic surgeon. Wrist ganglia were identified in 53 out of the 103 wrists. The average long and short axes measurements were 8 mm (range 3–22) and 3 mm (range 2–10), respectively. Seventy per cent of the ganglia originated from the palmar capsule in the region of the interval between the radioscaphocapitate ligament and the long radiolunate ligament. Fourteen per cent of the ganglia were dorsal and originated from the dorsal, distal fibres of the scapholunate ligament. Two ganglia had surrounding soft tissue oedema and one had an associated intraosseous component. Unlike previous surgical and pathological series, our study showed that palmar wrist ganglia are more common than dorsal wrist ganglia. The vast majority of these asymptomatic ganglia occur without associated ligamentous disruption, soft tissue oedema or intraosseous communication.