To increase image acquisition efficiency, we develop alternative gradient encoding strategies designed to provide spatial encoding complementary to the spatial encoding provided by the multiple receiver coil elements in parallel image acquisitions. Intuitively, complementary encoding is achieved when the magnetic field encoding gradients are designed to encode spatial information where receiver spatial encoding is ambiguous, for example, along sensitivity isocontours. Specifically, the method generates a basis set for the null space of the coil sensitivities with the singular value decomposition and calculates encoding fields from the null space vectors. A set of nonlinear gradients is used as projection imaging readout magnetic fields, replacing the conventional linear readout field and phase encoding. Multiple encoding fields are used as projections to capture the null space information, hence the term null space imaging. The method is compared to conventional Cartesian SENSitivity Encoding as evaluated by mean squared error and robustness to noise. Strategies for developments in the area of nonlinear encoding schemes are discussed. The null space imaging approach yields a parallel imaging method that provides high acceleration factors with a limited number of receiver coil array elements through increased time efficiency in spatial encoding. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.