Diffusion imaging with high-b factors, high spatial resolution and cerebrospinal fluid signal suppression was performed in order to characterize the biexponential nature of the diffusion-related signal decay with b-factor in normal cortical gray and deep gray matter (GM). Integration of inversion pulses with a line scan diffusion imaging sequence resulted in 91% cerebrospinal fluid signal suppression, permitting accurate measurement of the fast diffusion coefficient in cortical GM (1.142+/-0.106 microm2/ms) and revealing a marked similarity with that found in frontal white matter (WM) (1.155+/-0.046 microm2/ms). The reversal of contrast between GM and WM at low vs high b-factors is shown to be due to a significantly faster slow diffusion coefficient in cortical GM (0.338+/-0.027 microm2/ms) than in frontal WM (0.125+/-0.014 microm2/ms). The same characteristic diffusion differences between GM and WM are observed in other brain tissue structures. The relative component size showed nonsignificant differences among all tissues investigated. Cellular architecture in GM and WM are fundamentally different and may explain the two- to threefold higher slow diffusion coefficient in GM.