Efficacy and safety considerations for cancer therapy with hyperthermia require accurate temperature measurements throughout the heated volume. We report the use of molecular diffusion, whose temperature dependence is well known. A dedicated hyperthermia applicator was built, combining a MRI gradient coil and a rf coil. Diffusion and derived temperature images were obtained with a 1 × 2 mm pixel size on a polyacrylamide gel phantom using a clinical 1.5-T whole body MRI system. Temperatures determined from these images using 1 cm2 regions of interest were found to be within 0.2° of those recorded from the thermocouples and fiber-optic probes placed inside the gel. © 1991 Academic Press, Inc.