In 1984, Dixon published a first paper on a simple spectroscopic imaging technique for water and fat separation. The technique acquires two separate images with a modified spin echo pulse sequence. One is a conventional spin echo image with water and fat signals in-phase and the other is acquired with the readout gradient slightly shifted so that the water and fat signals are 180° out-of-phase. Dixon showed that from these two images, a water-only image and a fat-only image can be generated. The water-only image by the Dixon's technique can serve the purpose of fat suppression, an important and widely used imaging option for clinical MRI. Additionally, the availability of both the water-only and fat-only images allows direct image-based water and fat quantitation. These applications, as well as the potential that the technique can be made highly insensitive to magnetic field inhomogeneity, have generated substantial research interests and efforts from many investigators. As a result, significant improvement to the original technique has been made in the last 2 decades. The following article reviews the underlying physical principles and describes some major technical aspects in the development of these Dixon techniques. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2008;28:543–558. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.