The optimum infusion timing and k-space ordering for obtaining gadolinium-enhanced three-dimensional MR angiograms was determined through computer modeling using temporal contrast characteristics obtained from patient gadolinium infusion data. The effects of bolus timing were evaluated by varying the relationship between peak intravascular gadolinium concentration and the time at which the center of k space was acquired (tck) for sequential and centric acquisition techniques. Flow phantom experiments were performed to validate the theoretical computations. Gadolinium concentration at the time of central k-space acquisition determines intravascular signal intensity. Artifacts, including vessel broadening and edge ringing, depend on the order in which k space is collected and on how rapidly the gadolinium concentration changes. Artifacts are greatest when the center of k space is acquired before the intravascular gadolinium peak. Application of the optimal infusion timing results in preferential arterial enhancement with a minimum of artifacts in patients undergoing MR angiography.