In diffusion-weighted imaging, multishot acquisitions are problematic due to intershot inconsistencies of the phase caused by motion during the diffusion-encoding gradients. A model for the motion-induced phase errors in diffusion-weighted-MRI of the brain is presented, in which rigid-body and nonrigid-body motion are separated. In the model, it is assumed that nonrigid-body motion is due to cardiac pulsation, and that the motion patterns are repeatable from beat-to-beat. To test the validity of this assumption, the repeatability of nonrigid-body motion-induced phase errors is quantified in three healthy volunteers. Nonrigid-body motion-induced phase was found to significantly correlate (P < 0.05) with pulse-oximeter waveforms in ∼83% of the pixels tested across all slices and subjects. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.