Purpose: Absolute concentrations of high-energy phosphorus (31P) metabolites in liver provide more important insight into physiologic status of liver disease compared to resonance integral ratios. A simple method for measuring absolute concentrations of 31P metabolites in human liver is described. The approach uses surface spoiling inhomogeneous magnetic field gradient to select signal from liver tissue. The technique avoids issues caused by respiratory motion, chemical shift dispersion associated with linear magnetic field gradients, and increased tissue heat deposition due to radiofrequency absorption, especially at high field strength. Methods: A method to localize signal from liver was demonstrated using superficial and highly nonuniform magnetic field gradients, which eliminate signal(s) from surface tissue(s) located between the liver and RF coil. A double standard method was implemented to determine absolute 31P metabolite concentrations in vivo. 8 healthy individuals were examined in a 3 T MR scanner. Results: Concentrations of metabolites measured in eight healthy individuals are: γ-adenosine triphosphate (ATP) = 2.44 ± 0.21 (mean ± sd) mmol/l of wet tissue volume, α-ATP = 3.2 ± 0.63 mmol/l, β-ATP = 2.98 ± 0.45 mmol/l, inorganic phosphates (Pi) = 1.87 ± 0.25 mmol/l, phosphodiesters (PDE) = 10.62 ± 2.20 mmol/l and phosphomonoesters (PME) = 2.12 ± 0.51 mmol/l. All are in good agreement with literature values. Conclusions: The technique offers robust and fast means to localize signal from liver tissue, allows absolute metabolite concentration determination, and avoids problems associated with constant field gradient (linear field variation) localization methods.