The fast acquisition interleaved spin-echo (FAISE) method is a partial RF echo-planar technique which utilizes a specific phase-encode reordering algorithm to manipulate image contrast (Melki et al., J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 1:319, 1991). The technique can generate "spin-echo" like images up to 16 times faster than conventional spin-echo methods. However, the presence of T2 decay throughout the variable k-space trajectories used to manipulate T2 contrast ensures the presence of image artifacts, especially along the phase-encode direction. In this work, we experimentally and theoretically examine the type and extent of artifacts associated with the FAISE technique. We demonstrate the existence of well-defined minima of phase-encode ghost noise for selected k-space trajectories, examine the extent of blurring and edge enhancement artifacts, demonstrate the influence of matrix size and number of echoes per train on phase-encode artifact, and show how proper choice of FAISE sequence parameters can lead to proton density brain images which are practically indistinguishable from conventional spin-echo proton density images. A comparison of contrast between FAISE and standard spin-echo methods is presented in a companion article referred to as II.