Recent experimental data suggest that adiposity directly damages the heart by promoting ectopic deposition of triglyceride, a process known as myocardial steatosis. The goal of this study was to develop and validate proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) as an in vivo tool to measure myocardial lipid content. Complementary studies in rat tissue ex vivo and in 15 healthy humans in vivo provided evidence that 1H MRS constitutes a reproducible technique for the measurement of myocardial triglyceride. In myocardial tissue from Zucker rats, the 1H MRS measurement of triglyceride matched that obtained by biochemical measurement (P < 0.001). In human subjects triglyceride was evident in the hearts of even the very lean individuals and was elevated in overweight and obese subjects. Increased myocardial triglyceride content was accompanied by elevated LV mass and suppressed septal wall thickening as measured by cardiac imaging. Magn Reson Med 49:417–423, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.