A simple, linear kinetic model has been developed for the noninvasive assessment of capillary permeability to macromolecules in the rat by dynamic magnetic resonance imaging using albumin-Gd-DTPA. Data required by the model are signal intensity responses from a target tissue and a venous structure such as inferior vena cava before and after bolus intravenous injection of albumin-Gd-DTPA. Additional requirements include an early temporal resolution of approximately one image/min and a blood sample for hematocrit. The model does not require measurement of albumin-Gd-DTPA concentration in either arterial or venous blood. Pilot experiments suggest that this technique is adequate for estimation of the fractional leak rate of macromolecules from plasma to interstitial water as well as tissue plasma volume, the product of which yields a measure of the permeability surface area product of the tissue if the extraction fraction is modest (< 0.2). The technique may be generally applicable to the study of abnormal capillary permeability in humans as well as animals.