This work is a contribution to the problem of localizing key cerebral structures in 3D MRIs and its quantitative evaluation. In pursuing it, the cooperation between an image-based segmentation method and a hierarchical deformable registration approach has been considered. The segmentation relies on two main processes: homotopy modification and contour decision. The first one is achieved by a marker extraction stage where homogeneous 3D regions of an image, I(s), from the data set are identified. These regions, M(I), are obtained combining information from deformable atlas, achieved by the warping of eight previous labeled maps on I(s). Then, the goal of the decision stage is to precisely locate the contours of the 3D regions set by the markers. This contour decision is performed by a 3D extension of the watershed transform. The anatomical structures taken into consideration and embedded into the atlas are brain, ventricles, corpus callosum, cerebellum, right and left hippocampus, medulla and midbrain. The hybrid method operates fully automatically and in 3D, successfully providing segmented brain structures. The quality of the segmentation has been studied in terms of the detected volume ratio by using kappa statistic and ROC analysis. Results of the method are shown and validated on a 3D MRI phantom. This study forms part of an on-going long term research aiming at the creation of a 3D probabilistic multi-purpose anatomical brain atlas.