In this work, the use of hyperpolarized (HP) 3He for in vivo intravascular imaging on animal is reported. To overcome the problem of the low solubility of helium in blood, we propose an approach based on helium encapsulation in lipid-based carrier agents. The mean diameter of the 3He microbubbles, measured equal to 3.0+/-0.2 microm, makes it possible to conduct in vivo studies. In vitro spectroscopy yielded a longitudinal relaxation time T(1) equal to 90 s and an apparent transverse relaxation time T(2)(*) of 4.5 ms. Angiographic imaging (venous and cardiac cavity visualization), as well as lung perfusion imaging, were demonstrated in rats using intravenous injections of microbubble suspensions. Suitable signal and spatial resolution were achieved. The potential of this technique for lung perfusion assessment was assessed using an experimental animal embolism model. Lung perfusion defects and recovery towards a normal perfusion state were visualized. This study was completed with the demonstration of a new ventilation-perfusion lung exploration method based entirely on HP 3He.