PURPOSE: To assess the usefulness of cardiac MR imaging (MRI) in the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction and in the assessment of myocardial viability in comparision with Tl-201 SPECT. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively studied 17 patients who complained of chest pain and dyspnea with cardiac MRI . The patients were evaluated for the presence or absence of high signal intensity on T2-weighted image (T2WI), abnormal wall motion on 2D - FIESTA, perfusion defect on Gd-DTPA enhanced T1WI, and delayed myocardial enhancement on 15-minutes delay Gd-DTPA enhanced T1WI. The results were correlated with the images on Tl-201 SPECT, taken at rest and stress, through which reversibility of perfusion defect was assessed. RESULTS: Both cardiac MRI and Tl-201 SPECT proved to be useful methods for diagnosing acute myocardial infarction. In order of decreasing correspondence, T2WI, Tl-201 SPECT, delayed enhancement study, and wall motion images all showed significant statistical correlation with the clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction. Perfusion MRI, on the other hand, showed no significant statistical difference was found between Tl-201 SPECT and cardiac MRI. The results on T2WI showed high accordance with those on Tl-201 SPECT, while delayed myocardial enhancement and wall motion studies showed no agreement with Tl-201 SPECT. CONCLUSION: Cardiac MRI is useful method for diagnosis of acute myocardiac infarction. With respect to the assessment of myocardial viability, the results obtained on cardiac MRI showed high agreement with those on Tl-201 SPECT. However, further study is necessary at this point for standardization and establishment of the methods for assessing myocardial viability on cardiac MRI.