Sports-related muscle pain is frequent in both trained and untrained persons; however, its severity and significance may be difficult to assess clinically. The authors used magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to evaluate acute strains and delayed-onset muscle soreness in sedentary subjects and postmarathon myalgia in trained runners. MR imaging documented the distribution of affected muscles and the absence of focal hematoma, fascial herniation, subsequent fibrosis, and fatty infiltration. Pain associated with strain and that occurring several days after exercise were both associated with prolongation of muscle T1 and T2. In a prospective evaluation of delayed-onset muscle soreness, abnormalities depicted at MR imaging persisted longer than symptoms by up to 3 weeks, indicating that MR imaging is sensitive to tissue alteration that is not apparent clinically. Highly trained marathon runners tended to have relatively mild abnormalities involving the myotendinous junctions.