This study aimed to characterize changes in lipid saturation using magnetic resonance spectroscopy of sensitive (HeLa) and resistant (C33A; Me180) cervical cancer cell lines following exposure to paclitaxel to explore lipid profiles as biomarkers of drug resistance. Spectra were acquired at 11.74 T. Flow cytometry, electron, and confocal microscopy assessed cellular morphology. Western blots assessed cytoplasmic phospholipase A2, fatty acid synthase, and acyl-CoA synthetase1 expression. After 24 h of paclitaxel exposure, >60% of cells showed mitotic arrest. At 48 h, HeLa cells showed apoptosis while C33A/Me180 cells showed normal morphology indicating resistance. MR-visible lipids increased significantly in all lines at 24 h with further increases at 48 h; resistant lines showed smaller increases than HeLa. Cytoplasmic phospholipase A2 and fatty acid synthase levels were unchanged at 24 h and dropped at 48 h in HeLa; acyl-CoA synthetase1 was higher in Me180/C33A than in HeLa controls but did not increase significantly. The percentage of cells displaying lipid droplets increased significantly at 24 and 48 h in all lines; droplet size increased only in HeLa cells. Droplet number was >3–4× greater in apoptotic compared with mitotic-arrested cells. Apoptotic cells accumulate unsaturated fatty acids in large (relative to control) droplets; resistant lines accumulated smaller droplets with less triglycerides. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.