Background: Although heart failure (HF) is a common cardiovascular disorder, to date little research has been conducted into possible associations between HF and structural abnormalities of the brain. Aims: To determine the frequency and pattern of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in outpatients with chronic HF, and to identify any demographic and clinical correlates. Methods: Brain MRI scans were compared between a sample of 58 HF patients, 48 controls diagnosed with cardiovascular disease uncomplicated by HF (cardiac controls) and 42 healthy controls. Deep, periventricular and total white matter hyperintensities (WMH), lacunar and cortical infarcts, global and medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA) were investigated. Results: Compared to cardiac and healthy controls, HF patients had significantly more WMH, lacunar infarcts and MTA, whereas cardiac controls only had more MTA, compared to healthy controls. Age and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) were independently associated with total WMH. Age and systolic hypotension were associated with MTA in HF patients and cardiac controls. Conclusion: Our results suggest that cardiac dysfunction contributes independently to the development of cerebral MRI abnormalities in patients with HF. Age and low LVEF are the principal predictors of cerebral WMH in patients with HF and in cardiac controls.