The paramagnetic chelate complex, gadolinium-diethylene-triamine-pentaacetic acid, Gd-DTPA, and superparamagnetic particles, such as those composed of dextran coated magnetite, function as magnetic resonance contrast agents by changing the relaxation rates, 1/T1 and 1/T2. The effects that these agents have upon MR signal intensity are determined by: the inherent biophysical properties of the tissue being imaged, the concentration of the contrast agent and the data acquisition scheme (pulse sequence parameters) employed. Following the time course of MR signal change in the first minutes after the injection of contrast agent(s) allows a dynamic assessment of organ functions in a manner analogous to certain nuclear medicine studies. In order to study renal function, sequential MR fast scan images, gradient echo (TR=35/TE=7 msec, flip angle=25 degrees), were acquired, one every 12 seconds, after intravenous injection of Gd-DTPA and/or dextran-magnetite. Gd-DTPA, which is freely filtered at the glomerulus and is neither secreted nor reabsorbed, provides information concerning renal perfusion, glomerular filtration and tubular concentrating ability. Dextran-magnetite (200 A diameter), which is primarily contained within the intravascular space shortly after injection, provides information on blood flow to and distribution within the kidney. The MR signal change observed after administration of contrast agents varied dramatically depending upon the agents injected and the imaging parameters used. Hence a broad range of physiolgic processes may be described using these techniques, i.e. contrast agent enhanced functional MR examinations.