In many cardiac patients, image quality and/or scan efficiency is reduced due to imprecise R-wave ability to trigger the scan due to noise on the electrocardiogram (ECG) caused by the magnetic resonance (MR) environment. We developed a triggering system that uses the spatial information of the vectorcardiogram (VCG) to minimize the effects of MR-related noise on triggering. Fifteen volunteers underwent standard cardiovascular MR exams, and a total of 52,474 R-waves were evaluated with the algorithm, giving a performance index of 99.91%. The mean propagation delay of the system was -10.64 +/- 3.19 msec, which falls within the real-time definition for cardiac MRI triggering. Five patients had arrhythmias consisting of premature ventricular depolarizations (PVDs) and supraventricular extra systoles. For those patients with PVDs, all arrhythmic beats were rejected unless they passed through the algorithm's reference point. The performance index for the arrhythmic patients approached 100%. VCG-based triggering has been demonstrated to provide near 100% triggering performance during cardiac MR examinations.