The relaxation effects and organ distribution of superparamagnetic iron oxide particles for magnetic resonance imaging were measured in rats. T1 and T2 were measured for excised organs, and tissue iron levels were quantified with radiolabeling. Approximately 70% of the injected dose is present in the liver and 10% in the spleen 1 hour after injection. At 20 MHz, the doses required to reduce liver and spleen T2 to half the normal value, as measured with a Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill sequence, were, respectively, 420 and 830 mumol iron injected per kilogram of rat. The transverse relaxation rates increase linearly with injected dose and showed no evidence of saturation. These results suggest that this material is less effective than previously suggested.