To ascertain the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging characteristics of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas and to compare MR with computed tomography (CT) and iodine-131 metaiodobenzylguanidine (I-131 MIBG), 19 patients (18 with pheochromocytomas, one with a paraganglioma) were studied. The 18 patients with pheochromocytomas had had positive findings with I-131 MIBG scintigraphy. Abdominal pheochromocytomas were generally hypointense compared with normal liver on T1-weighted MR images and extremely hyperintense on T2-weighted MR images. MR imaging was preferable to CT in the evaluation of primary pheochromocytomas due to superior tissue characterization, particularly in the patient with hypertension and borderline catecholamine levels. For patients with recurrent or metastatic disease, the data suggest that I-131 MIBG scintigraphy is the examination of choice.