After administration of gadolinium, infarcted myocardium exhibits delayed hyperenhancement and can be imaged using an inversion recovery (IR) sequence. The performance of such a method when using magnitude-reconstructed images is highly sensitive to the inversion recovery time (TI) selected. Using phase-sensitive reconstruction, it is possible to use a nominal value of TI, eliminate several breath-holds otherwise needed to find the precise null time for normal myocardium, and achieve a consistent contrast. Phase-sensitive detection is used to remove the background phase while preserving the sign of the desired magnetization during IR. Experimental results are presented which demonstrate the benefits of both phase-sensitive IR image reconstruction and surface coil intensity normalization for detecting myocardial infarction (MI). The phase-sensitive reconstruction method reduces the variation in apparent infarct size that is observed in the magnitude images as TI is changed. Phase-sensitive detection also has the advantage of decreasing the sensitivity to changes in tissue T(1) with increasing delay from contrast agent injection.