Magnetic resonance imaging was used to determine the T2 relaxation times of prepared proteoglycan solutions and of normal human intervertebral disc tissue from the annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP). The collagen, proteoglycan, and water contents of the disc tissue samples were determined by biochemical assays after they were scanned. Correlations among 1/T2, collagen, proteoglycan, and water contents of the tissue samples and among 1/T2, water, and proteoglycan contents of the proteoglycan solutions were calculated. A moderate negative correlation between 1/T2 and water content was noted for the tissue samples, and a very high negative correlation was found between 1/T2 and water content for the proteoglycan solutions. The very high positive correlation between 1/T2 and proteoglycan content of the proteoglycan solutions is probably due to this negative correlation between 1/T2 and water content. There was no significant correlation between 1/T2 and proteoglycan content of the tissues. The moderate positive correlation between 1/T2 and collagen content is probably due to the high negative correlation between collagen content and water content. No significant correlation was found between the collagen and proteoglycan contents of the tissues. Thus it appears that the data confirm previous reports in the literature that the collagen of the disc tissue functions to control its water content.