In the last few years, mental imagery fMRI paradigms have been used successfully to identify covert command-following and awareness in some patients who are thought to be entirely vegetative. However, to date there is only evidence supporting their use at magnetic fields of 3T, which limits their applicability in clinical settings where lower field strengths are typically used. Here, we test the 'gold standard' fMRI paradigm for detecting residual awareness in non-responsive patients by comparing its sensitivity at 1.5T and 3T in the same group of healthy volunteers. We were able to successfully detect brain activity showing command-following in most participants at both 3T and 1.5T, with similar reliability. These results demonstrate that fMRI assessment of covert awareness is clinically viable and therefore justify a broader use of these methods in standard assessments in severely brain injured patients.