Objective: To evaluate the longitudinal integrity of white matter tracts in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) as determined by changes in diffusivity indices of lesional and non-lesional white matter in the optic radiation over 12 months. Methods: The optic radiation (OR) was identified in sixty RRMS patients using probabilistic tractography. MS lesions were segmented on FLAIR T2 images and a lesion mask was intersected with the co-registered OR. Lesions within the OR were identified in 39 patients. Voxelbased analysis of axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity (RD) within OR lesions and nonlesional normal appearing white matter (NAWM) was performed at baseline and 12 months in 34 patients (five patients excluded due to new OR lesions). Results: Both RD and AD demonstrated much higher values within the lesions compared with nonlesional NAWM. There was a significant (p<0.001) increase of lesional AD and RD during the follow-up period. This increase, however, was driven almost entirely by themale cohort, in which a significantly greater change in both AD (M-2.7%, F-0.9%) and RD (M-4.6%, F-0.7%) was observed during the follow-up period. Non-lesional NAWM also demonstrated an increase in both AD and RD, albeit on a much lesser scale (1.0% and 0.6% respectively). In contradistinction to lesions, the diffusivity change in non-lesional NAWM was similar between sexes. Conclusions: The evolution of AD and RD in chronic MS lesions over 12 months suggests ongoing inflammatory demyelinating activity accompanied by axonal loss. In addition, our findings are consistent with the recently observed trend of more rapid clinical progression in males and establish a potential in vivo biomarker of gender dichotomy by demonstrating a significantly faster rate of microstructural change in the chronic lesions of male patients with MS.