The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic potential of a high-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) venography technique in patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). A high-resolution 3D gradient echo sequence was used with a long echo time TE to obtain venous information down to sub-pixel sized vessel diameters of several hundred microns. The method is based on the paramagnetic property of deoxyhemoglobin, and the resulting developing phase difference between veins and brain parenchyma at long echo times which leads to signal cancellation. The reconstructed venograms were compared with time-of-flight (TOF)-MR angiography using qualitative and quantitative criteria with the conventional digital subtraction angiography serving as the reference gold standard. In 17 patients with angiographically proven cerebral AVMs, the method indicates its potential in clinical applications. Venography was able to detect all AVMs whereas TOF-MRA failed in three patients. In the delineation of venous drainage patterns MR venography was superior to TOF-MRA, however, the method failed in the detection of about half of the main feeding arteries, as expected. Due to susceptibility artifacts at air/tissue boundaries and interference with paramagnetic hemosiderin, venography was limited with respect to the delineation of the exact nidus sizes and shapes in ten patients with AVMs located close to the skull base or having suffered from previous bleeding. Although the visualization of draining veins represents an important prerequisite in the surgical and radiosurgical treatment planning of cerebral AVMs, application of high resolution MR venography may be limited in the diagnostic work-up in some of these patients. On the other hand, it may be of special importance in the early detection and assessment of small AVMs that are difficult to diagnose with other MR methods.