Previous structural magnetic resonance imaging (S-MRI) studies of bipolar disorder have reported variable morphological changes in subcortical brain structures and ventricles. This study aimed to establish trait-related subcortical volumetric and shape abnormalities in a large, homogeneous sample of prospectively confirmed euthymic bipolar I disorder (BD-I) patients (n=60), compared with healthy volunteers (n=60). Participants were individually matched for age and gender. Volume and shape metrics were derived from manually segmented S-MR images for the hippocampus, amygdala, caudate nucleus, and lateral ventricles. Group differences were analysed, controlling for age, gender and intracranial volume. BD-I patients displayed significantly smaller left hippocampal volumes and significantly larger left lateral ventricle volumes compared with controls. Shape analysis revealed an area of contraction in the anterior head and medial border of the left hippocampus, as well as expansion in the right hippocampal tail medially, in patients compared with controls. There were no significant associations between volume or shape variation and lithium status or duration of use. A reduction in the head of the left hippocampus in BD-I patients is interesting, given this region's link to verbal memory. Shape analysis of lateral ventricular changes in patients indicated that these are not regionally specific.