Metastasis (the spread of cancer from a primary tumor to secondary organs) is responsible for most cancer deaths. The ability to follow the fate of a population of tumor cells over time in an experimental animal would provide a powerful new way to monitor the metastatic process. Here we describe a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that permits the tracking of breast cancer cells in a mouse model of brain metastasis at the single-cell level. Cancer cells that were injected into the left ventricle of the mouse heart and then delivered to the brain were detectable on MR images. This allowed the visualization of the initial delivery and distribution of cells, as well as the growth of tumors from a subset of these cells within the whole intact brain volume. The ability to follow the metastatic process from the single-cell stage through metastatic growth, and to quantify and monitor the presence of solitary undivided cells will facilitate progress in understanding the mechanisms of brain metastasis and tumor dormancy, and the development of therapeutics to treat this disease. Magn Reson Med, 2006. Published 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.