A technique is described for the in-vivo determination of mammary gland size and gross composition in goats by using nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The volume of test objects determined with MRI had an error of +0.4 +/- 1.6% of the actual volume. In lactating goats the in-vivo MRI estimate of mammary parenchymal volume was significantly greater than, but highly significantly correlated with, the weight of parenchyma determined post mortem (for the whole udder, r = 0.88, P less than 0.001; for individual glands, r = 0.85, P less than 0.001). MRI-determined estimates of the volume of fluid within the mammary gland were within 1.2% of the volume of milk removed from the udders after imaging. The spin-lattice (T1) relaxation time of the whole udder correlated closely with the volume of fluid within the udder. The T1 relaxation time of parenchymal tissue measured in vivo did not differ significantly from that determined immediately after post-mortem excision.