A demonstration of MR guided thermal surgery involved experiments with imaging of focused ultrasound in an MRI system, measurements of the thermal transients and a thermal analysis of the resulting images. Both the heat distribution and the creation of focused ultrasound lesions in gel phantoms, in vitro bovine muscle and in vivo rabbit muscle were monitored with magnetic resonance imaging. Thermal surgical procedures were modeled by an elongated gaussian heat source where heat flow is controlled by tissue thermal properties and tissue perfusion. Temperature profiles were measured with thermocouples or calculated from magnetic resonance imaging in agreement with the model. A 2-s T1-weighted gradient-refocused acquisition provided thermal profiles needed to localize the heat distribution produced by a 4-s focused ultrasound pulse. Thermal analysis of the images give an effective thermal diffusion coefficient of 0.0015 cm2/s in gel and 0.0033 cm2/s in muscle. The lesions were detected using a T2-weighted spin-echo or fast spin-echo pulse sequence in agreement with muscle tissue sections. Potential thermal surgery applications are in the prostate, liver, kidney, bladder, breast, eye and brain.