A subsecond magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for isotropic diffusion mapping is described which, in contrast to echo-planar imaging (EPI), is insensitive to resonance offsets, i.e., tissue susceptibility differences, magnetic field inhomogeneities, and chemical shifts. It combines a diffusion-weighted (DW) spin-echo preparation period and a high-speed stimulated echo acquisition mode (STEAM) MRI sequence and yields single-shot images within measuring times of 559 msec (80 echoes). Here, diffusion encoding involved one scan without DW, three DW scans with b = 490 sec mm(-2), and three DW scans with b = 1000 sec mm(-2) (orthogonal gradient orientations). An automated on-line evaluation resulted in isotropic DW images as well as ADC maps (trace of the diffusion tensor). Experiments at 2.0 T covered the brain of healthy subjects in 20 contiguous sections of 6 mm thickness and 2.0 x 2.0 mm(2) in-plane resolution within a total measuring time of 78 sec. High-resolution studies at 1.0 x 1.0 mm(2) (interpolated from 2.0 x 1.0 mm(2) acquisitions) were obtained within 5 min 13 sec using four averages. In comparison with EPI, DW single-shot STEAM MRI exhibits only about half the SNR, but completely avoids regional signal losses, high intensity artifacts, and geometric distortions.