Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has many bona fide applications in the head and neck region. The major strengths of its current conventional use include excellent soft-tissue contrast, multiplanar capabilities, noninvasiveness, and lack of ionizing radiation. Newer advances, including gradient-echo techniques, three-dimensional fourier transformation, paramagnetic contrast, and more efficient receiver coils, will improve images and expand indications for MRI. The technology, however, remains relatively expensive, and the additional information compared with that of other techniques might not always justify the difference in cost. Moreover, MRI's insensitivity to calcifications, lack of depiction of fine bone detail, and, in some areas, degradation caused by motion and other artifacts make computed tomography and other noninvasive studies more appropriate as a primary imaging tool in many circumstances. Continued careful clinical research should clarify the relative role of MRI and other imaging tools during the next several years.