We compared the efficacy of MR angiography with that of conventional angiography for visualizing the renal arteries and detecting renovascular disease. Thirty-three MR angiographic studies, consisting of axial two-dimensional (2-D) phase-contrast, coronal 2-D phase-contrast, and coronal 2-D time-of-flight acquisitions, were performed within 48 hr of conventional arteriography. The studies were done to evaluate possible renovascular hypertension (n = 25) or potential donor nephrectomy (n = 8). The three MR image sets were interpreted independently, in random order by three observers, with regard to the number of renal arteries, degree of vessel visualization, arteriovenous overlap, and presence of renovascular disease. A fourth interpretation was based on the combined axial and coronal phase-contrast image sets. Evaluation was limited to the proximal 35 mm of each renal artery. Renal artery visualization and detection of renovascular disease were more complete with coronal phase-contrast (80% sensitivity, 91% specificity) than with time-of-flight (53% sensitivity, 97% specificity) images. Combined axial and coronal phase-contrast images permitted visualization of the proximal 35 mm of all dominant renal arteries and detection of 13 of 15 stenoses (87% sensitivity, 97% specificity). Our data suggest that biplanar MR angiography has considerable potential as a noninvasive screening technique for the evaluation of renovascular disease.