The aim of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of the absolute renal blood flow quantification using MRI and injection of contrast media. Using a T1-weighted fast gradient sequence following an intravenous bolus injection of Gd-DTPA, dynamic images of the kidney were obtained in patients with well-functioning native kidneys (n = 7) or transplant (n = 9), with significant renal artery stenosis (n = 4) and with renal failure (n = 7). After signal intensity calibration, the absolute renal perfusion was equal to the wash-in slope of the renal transit curve divided by the contrast medium concentration at the peak of the bolus in the aorta. The cortical blood flow was 2.54+/-1.16 ml/min per gram in well-functioning kidneys decreasing to 1.09+/-0.75 ml/min per gram in case of renal artery stenosis (p = 0.04) and to 0.51+/-0.34 ml/min per gram in case of renal failure (P<0.001). These measurements were in agreement with previous results obtained by other methods. A standard MRI imaging sequence and a simple model can provide realistic quantitative data on renal perfusion. This work justifies further studies to compare this model with a gold standard for renal blood flow measurements.