Thin-section, three-dimensional (3D) gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging of the coronary arteries was performed without and with retrospective respiratory gating in 12 healthy volunteers and one patient. In all examinations, results were improved with gating. In five of seven volunteer examinations, coronary artery delineation on images reconstructed by using the least-squares method for motion detection with navigator echoes was found to be equal to that obtained by using edge detection. Images in five other volunteers covered the entire heart with multiple overlapping 3D slabs. The arteries were segmented from the background and could be viewed from any orientation. The lengths of contiguously visible vessels were as follows: left main coronary artery, 11.5 mm +/- 0.4 (mean +/- standard deviation); left anterior descending branch, 115.9 mm +/- 19.7; left circumflex branch, 97.2 mm +/- 12.5; and right coronary artery, 125.9 mm +/- 18.8. This respiratory gating technique clearly improved depiction of the coronary arteries.