Measurements of hepatic iron concentration (HIC) are important predictors of transfusional iron burden and long-term outcome in patients with transfusion-dependent anemias. The goal of this work was to develop a readily available, noninvasive method for clinical HIC measurement. The relaxation rates R2 (1/T2) and R2* (1/T2*) measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have different advantages for HIC estimation. This article compares noninvasive iron estimates using both optimized R2 and R2* methods in 102 patients with iron overload and 13 controls. In the iron-overloaded group, 22 patients had concurrent liver biopsy. R2 and R2* correlated closely with HIC (r2 > or = .95) for HICs between 1.33 and 32.9 mg/g, but R2 had a curvilinear relationship to HIC. Of importance, the R2 calibration curve was similar to the curve generated by other researchers, despite significant differences in technique and instrumentation. Combined R2 and R2* measurements did not yield more accurate results than either alone. Both R2 and R2* can accurately measure hepatic iron concentration throughout the clinically relevant range of HIC with appropriate MRI acquisition techniques.