The aim of this prospective trial was to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of bright lumen magnetic resonance colonography (MRC) in comparison with conventional colonoscopy (CC). A total of 120 consecutive patients with clinical indications for CC were prospectively examined using MRC (1.5 Tesla) which was then followed by CC. Prior to MRC, the cleansed colon was filled with a gadolinium-water solution. A 3D GRE sequence was performed with the patient in the prone and supine position, each acquired during one breathhold period. After division of the colon into five segments, interactive data analysis was carried out using three-dimensional post-processing, including a virtual intraluminal view. The results of CC served as a reference standard. In all patients MRC was performed successfully and no complications occurred. Image quality was diagnostic in 92% (574/620 colonic segments). On a per-patient basis, the results of MRC were as follows: sensitivity 84% (95% CI 71.7-92.3%), specificity 97% (95% CI 89.0-99.6%). Five flat adenomas and 6/16 small polyps (< or =5 mm) were not identified by MRC. MRC offers high sensitivity and excellent specificity rates in patients with clinical indications for CC. Improved MRC techniques are needed to detect small polyps and flat adenomas.