Accurate characterization of harmonic tissue motion for realistic tissue geometries and property distributions requires knowledge of the full three-dimensional displacement field because of the asymmetric nature of both the boundaries of the tissue domain and the location of internal mechanical heterogeneities. The implications of this for magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) are twofold. First, for MRE methods which require the measurement of a harmonic displacement field within the tissue region of interest, the presence of 3D motion effects reduces or eliminates the possibility that simpler, lower-dimensional motion field images will capture the true dynamics of the entire stimulated tissue. Second, MRE techniques that exploit model-based elastic property reconstruction methods will not be able to accurately match the observed displacements unless they are capable of accounting for 3D motion effects. These two factors are of key importance for MRE techniques based on linear elasticity models to reconstruct mechanical tissue property distributions in biological samples. This article demonstrates that 3D motion effects are present even in regular, symmetric phantom geometries and presents the development of a 3D reconstruction algorithm capable of discerning elastic property distributions in the presence of such effects. The algorithm allows for the accurate determination of tissue mechanical properties at resolutions equal to that of the MR displacement image in complex, asymmetric biological tissue geometries. Simulation studies in a realistic 3D breast geometry indicate that the process can accurately detect 1-cm diameter hard inclusions with 2.5x elasticity contrast to the surrounding tissue.