Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides high tissue contrast without ionizing radiation exposure and unenhanced images are often diagnostic. Therefore, MRI is especially an attractive tool for patients with allergies for gadolinium-based contrast agents or renal failure. Technical advantages have led to the increasing use of diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI in abdominal imaging, which provides qualitative and quantitative information of tissue cellularity and the integrity of cellular membranes. This review article presents the current status of noncontrast MRI with the focus of DW-MRI. Technical background and clinical applications are explained and discussed. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2013;37:35–47. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.