The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of different magnetic resonance (MR) techniques for the diagnosis of nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH). Thirty-one patients with inflammatory bowel disease, who received 6-thioguanin, underwent liver biopsy and liver MRI on a 1.5-T MR system, with gadolinium and superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (SPIO). MR imaging (MRI) was evaluated independently as well as in consensus by two blinded readers, who received the following image sets: pre-contrast; pre-contrast and gadolinium-enhanced; pre-contrast and SPIO-enhanced and all images. The results were correlated with histopathology and diagnostic efficacy parameters were calculated. NRH was found in 13/31 patients. The set "all images" showed the highest sensitivity (84.6%), accuracy (77.4%) and negative predictive value (86.7%). However, results for gadolinium were only slightly inferior. The highest specificity (76.5%) was found for SPIO. The A(z) values of both readers were highest for gadolinium (mean A(z) = 0.824). It can be concluded that gadolinium-enhanced and SPIO-enhanced MRI enable an accurate diagnosis of NRH. Since gadolinium-enhanced MRI is very sensitive, it should be used for screening high-risk patients. SPIO-enhanced MRI is less sensitive, but more specific. The combination of both guarantees a high sensitivity and specificity and, therefore, is the diagnostic procedure of choice.