Acute hematomas can appear hypointense on T2-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images at field strengths as low as 0.35 T. Using Raman spectroscopy to measure blood oxygenation and taking T2 measurements at 2.1 and 9.4 T, the authors examined the relaxation mechanisms acting during deoxygenation, increases in hematocrit, and fibrin-clot formation and retraction. Individual contributions to overall T2 from deoxyhemoglobin and the interactions of water with protein hydration layers in hemoglobin, plasma proteins, and fibrin were measured. Overall T2 values estimated by summing individual relaxation rates were in reasonable agreement with the T2 values of clotted blood. Results suggest that deoxygenation may be most important in T2 shortening, followed by increased hematocrit. T2 shortening from fibrin polymerization was minimal at the field strengths used. Effects of deoxygenation and increasing hematocrit are more sensitive to field strength than fibrin T2 shortening. Effects of fibrin may be more significant at middle and low field strengths.