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The objective of the present study was to assess the high-resolution CT appearances of different types of pneumonia. The high-resolution CT scans obtained in 114 patients (58 immunocompetent, 59 immunocompromised) with bacterial, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, viral, fungal, and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonias were analyzed retrospectively by two independent observers for presence, pattern, and distribution of abnormalities. Areas of air-space consolidation were not detected in patients with viral pneumonia and were less frequently seen in patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (2 of 22 patients, 9%) than in bacterial (30 of 35, 85%), Mycoplasma pneumoniae (22 of 28, 79%), and fungal pneumonias (15 of 20, 75%; p <0.01). There was no significant difference in the prevalence or distribution of consolidation between bacterial, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and fungal pneumonias. Extensive symmetric bilateral areas of ground-glass attenuation were present in 21 of 22 (95%) patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and were not seen in other pneumonias except in association with areas of consolidation and nodules. Centrilobular nodules were present less commonly in bacterial pneumonia (6 of 35 patients, 17%) than in Mycoplasma pneumoniae (24 of 28, 96%), viral (7 of 9, 78%), or fungal (12 of 20, 92%) pneumonia (p <0.01). Except for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia, which often have a characteristic appearance, high-resolution CT is of limited value in the differential diagnosis of the various types of infective pneumonia.