We present a method for the automatic delineation of two neuromelanin rich brainstem structures –<i>substantia nigra pars </i><i>compacta</i> (SN) and <i>locus coeruleus </i>(LC)- in neuromelanin sensitive magnetic resonance images of the brain. The segmentation method uses a dynamic multi-image reference atlas and a pre-registration atlas selection strategy. To create the atlas, a pool of 35 images of healthy subjects was pair-wise pre-registered and clustered in groups using an affinity propagation approach. Each group of the atlas is represented by a single exemplar image. Each new target image to be segmented is registered to the exemplars of each cluster. Then all the images of the highest performing clusters are enrolled into the final atlas, and the results of the registration with the target image are propagated using a majority voting approach. All registration processes used combined one two-stage affine and one elastic B-spline algorithm, to account for global positioning, region selection and local anatomic differences. In this paper, we present the algorithm, with emphasis in the atlas selection method and the registration scheme. We evaluate the performance of the atlas selection strategy using 35 healthy subjects and 5 Parkinson’s disease patients. Then, we quantified the volume and contrast ratio of neuromelanin signal of these structures in 47 normal subjects and 40 Parkinson’s disease patients to confirm that this method can detect neuromelanin-containing neurons loss in Parkinson’s disease patients and could eventually be used for the early detection of SN and LC damage.