Examinations of the liver using magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) were performed on 50 patients with hepatic metastases. MR and CT were comparable in their ability to detect metastases, which generally appeared hypointense compared with normal liver parenchyma on T1-weighted MR images and hyperintense on T2-weighted images. The MR imaging techniques that were most reliable in detecting metastases were inversion recovery and a relatively T2-weighted, spin-echo technique (TR = 1,500 msec, TE = 60 msec). We conclude that CT, because of its shorter imaging time, greater spatial resolution, and lower cost, should remain the preferred screening test for hepatic metastases. MR imaging should be reserved for patients with equivocal CT findings and for patients in whom there is persistent clinical suspicion of hepatic metastases despite a negative CT examination.