In vivo detection of H(2)(17)O produced via metabolic reduction of inhaled (17)O-enriched gas is demonstrated using proton magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Specifically, (1)H T(1rho)-weighted MRI, which may be readily implemented on any MRI scanner, is applied as an indirect (17)O imaging method to quantitatively monitor the distribution of metabolically produced (17)O water (mpH(2)(17)O) in the rat brain. The delivery of (17)O(2) to rats is conducted via a specially designed closed respiration circuit that conserves the expensive gas. Quantitative mapping of H(2)(17)O performed via (1)H T(1rho)-weighted MRI is validated by direct (17)O-magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The MRI data show that a steady-state H(2)(17)O concentration of 25.7 +/- 1.66 mM (n = 4) is achieved in the rat brain within approximately 30 min under the (17)O inhalation paradigm used. From the first minute of the mpH(2)(17)O time courses, cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO(2)) is estimated to be 2.10 +/- 0.44 micromol g(-1) min(-1) (n = 4), a value that is consistent with the literature.