MR molecular imaging is an exciting new frontier in the biomedical applications of MR. One of the clinically relevant targets is the tyrosine kinase Her-2/neu receptor, which has a significant role in staging and treating breast cancer. In this study Her-2/neu receptors were imaged in a panel of breast cancer cells expressing different numbers of the receptors on the cell membrane. Commercially available streptavidin-conjugated superparamagnetic nanoparticles were used as targeted MR contrast agent. The nanoparticles were directed to receptors prelabeled with a biotinylated monoclonal antibody and generated strong T2 MR contrast in Her-2/neu-expressing cells. The contrast observed in MR images was proportional to the expression level of Her-2/neu receptors determined independently with FACS analysis. In these experiments, iron oxide nanoparticles were attached to the cell surface and were not internalized into the cells, which is a major advantage for in vivo applications of the method. Magn Reson Med 49:403–408, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.