The authors investigated the application of three-dimensional (3D) magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo (MP-RAGE) imaging to the acquisition of small (32 x 128 x 256) T1-weighted 3D data sets with imaging times of approximately 1 minute. A theoretical model was used to study the contrast behavior of brain tissue. On the basis of these theoretical results, 3D MP-RAGE sequences were implemented on a 1.5-T whole-body imager. Thirty-two-section 3D data sets demonstrating good signal-to-noise ratios and resolution and strong T1-weighted contrast were obtained in 1 minute. Compared with standard short TR/TE spin-echo sequences with the same imaging times and comparable sequence parameters, the 3D MP-RAGE sequence delivered increases of more than 50% in the white matter/gray matter signal difference-to-noise and white matter signal-to-noise ratios, and provided almost twice as many sections. These sequences may find a clinical role in 3D scout imaging and screening and in patients with claustrophobia or trauma.