The authors studied seven patients with penetrating aortic ulcers with use of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. All patients were evaluated for acute chest symptoms, and the presence of aortic ulcers was confirmed by means of angiography in all seven patients. Five patients also underwent computed tomography (CT). Three patients underwent surgical repair of the thoracic aorta. MR findings included intramural hematoma and focal aortic wall ulceration in four patients, focal ulceration in one, focal intramural hematoma in one, and focal intramural hematoma with rupture in one. The diagnosis of intramural hematoma was made by the detection of increased signal intensity on T1- and T2-weighted MR images. MR imaging was superior to angiography in depicting the extent of intramural thrombus, although one ulceration diagnosed at angiography was missed at MR imaging. MR imaging was superior to CT in differentiating acute intramural hematoma from atherosclerotic plaque and chronic intraluminal thrombus, although it did not depict displaced intimal calcification in one patient with extensive intramural hematoma.