Using a one-dimensional rapid imaging technique, we have found that injection of lanthanide chelates such as Gd(DTPA)2- leads to a significant decrease (50%) in rat brain signal intensity at 1.45 T using T2-weighted pulse sequences; however, no effect of comparable size is observed with T1-weighted pulse sequences. The transient effect and its kinetics were followed with a temporal resolution of between 1 and 8 s. Experiments with different lanthanide chelates show that the observed decrease in signal intensity correlates with the magnetic moment of each agent but not with their longitudinal relaxivity. Three-dimensional chemical-shift resolved experiments demonstrate significant line broadening in brain during infusion with Dy(DTPA)2-. Our results show that the cause of this effect is the difference in susceptibility between the capillaries, containing the contrast agent, and the surrounding tissue. As a result of these susceptibility differences, field gradients are produced in the tissue and diffusion of water through these gradients leads to a loss of spin phase coherence and thus a decrease in signal intensity. We propose this as a new type of contrast agent mechanism in NMR. The effect and its kinetics are likely to be related to important physiological parameters such as cerebral blood volume and cerebral blood flow, and do not depend on a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier as do conventional contrast agent techniques.