A novel imaging method is presented, Flip Angle Variation for Offset of RF and Relaxation (FAVOR), for rapid and efficient measurement of rat lung ventilation using hyperpolarized helium-3 (3He) gas. The FAVOR technique utilizes variable flip angles to remove the cumulative effect of RF pulses and T1 relaxation on the hyperpolarized gas signal and thereby eliminates the need for intervening air wash-out breaths and multiple cycles of 3He wash-in breaths before each image. The former allows an improvement in speed (by a factor of ≈30) while the latter reduces the cost of each measurement (by a factor of ≈5). The FAVOR and conventional ventilation methods were performed on six healthy male Brown Norway rats (190–270 g). Lobar measurements of ventilation, r, obtained with the FAVOR method were not significantly different from those obtained with the conventional method for the right middle and caudal and left lobes (P > 0.05 by a Wilcoxon matched pairs test). A methacholine challenge test was also administered to an animal and reduction and recovery of r was detected by the FAVOR method. The reduced 3He consumption and the improvement in speed provided by FAVOR suggest that it may allow measurement of ventilation in human subjects not previously possible. Magn Reson Med 59:1304–1310, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.