Preliminary reports indicate that gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is highly accurate for diagnosis of renal masses. The authors demonstrate the clinical utility of MR imaging for evaluating renal masses in 26 patients for whom contrast material-enhanced computed tomography (CT) was contraindicated or inadequate for diagnosis or staging. Nine patients had complex cysts, one had a perinephric hematoma, and 16 had a solid mass (three of which were benign). All patients underwent MR imaging before and after administration of gadopentetate dimeglumine. Multiple imaging techniques and sequences were used. All tumors and no cysts enhanced with gadolinium. Even though the three benign tumors enhanced, two were differentiated from renal carcinoma on the basis of other imaging features. Unenhanced MR imaging was accurate in staging of renal carcinomas, and use of gadolinium did not improve staging accuracy. Gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging is indicated when results of CT and sonography are indeterminate for malignancy and when contrast-enhanced CT is contraindicated because of renal failure or adverse reaction to iodinated contrast material. In this latter instance, MR imaging is useful for both diagnosis and staging.