When excreted gadolinium dietylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) collects in the bladder of a supine patient during magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, a puzzling pattern of signal intensities is noted. A gradual change in urine signal intensity with progressive addition of Gd-DTPA does not occur; instead, three sharply defined 'layers' are seen both on T1- and T2-weighted images within the urine-Gd-DTPA mixture. The physical basis for this triple-layering phenomenon was investigated. A bladder phantom was constructed to reproduce the phenomenon. T1 and T2 relaxivities of urine doped with varying concentrations of Gd-DTPA were measured in vitro; measured signal intensities corresponded closely to predicted intensities. Early urine concentrations of excreted Gd-DTPA may be relatively high (10-40 mmol/L), resulting in extremely short T1 and T2 values (less than 30 msec). These extremely short relaxation times cause an artifactual pseudolayering of signal within the urine-Gd-DTPA mixture.