This paper presents an automatic segmentation procedure for MRI neuroimages that overcomes part of the problems involved in multidimensional clustering techniques like partial volume effects (PVE), processing speed and difficulty of incorporating a priori knowledge. The method is a three-stage procedure: 1) Exclusion of background and skull voxels using threshold-based region growing techniques with fully automated seed selection. 2) Expectation Maximization algorithms are used to estimate the probability density function (PDF) of the remaining pixels, which are assumed to be mixtures of gaussians. These pixels can then be classified into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), white matter and grey matter. Using this procedure, our method takes advantage of using the full covariance matrix (instead of the diagonal) for the joint PDF estimation. On the other hand, logistic discrimination techniques are more robust against violation of multi-gaussian assumptions. 3) A priori knowledge is added using Markov Random Field techniques. The algorithm has been tested with a dataset of 30 brain MRI studies (co-registered T1 and T2 MRI). Our method was compared with clustering techniques and with template-based statistical segmentation, using manual segmentation as a gold-standard. Our results were more robust and closer to the gold-standard.© (2001) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.