A prospective comparison of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at 1.5 T was performed in 50 patients with the suspected diagnosis of pancreatic carcinoma. CT scans were obtained before and after administration of contrast material in 41 of 50 patients (82%); 34 of 41 postcontrast scans (83%) were obtained with dynamic CT. MR images were interpreted without knowledge of the results of CT, ultrasound, cholangiography, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in 48 patients (96%). Surgical correlation of findings at CT and MR imaging was performed in 24 patients (48%) at laparotomy and in two patients (4%) at autopsy. On T1-weighted MR images, relatively diminished signal intensity of tumor compared with that of the adjacent pancreas was a consistent finding. MR imaging proved superior to CT in identification of pancreatic carcinoma (particularly in smaller intrapancreatic tumors), peripancreatic extension, vascular and portal vein invasion, and duodenal invasion. These results suggest that MR imaging of the pancreas is superior in many instances to CT in preoperative evaluation of pancreatic carcinoma.