This work presents a new class of three-dimensional spiral based-trajectories for sampling magnetic resonance data. The distributed spirals trajectory efficiently traverses a cylinder or sphere or intermediate shape in k-space. The trajectory is shown to be nearly as efficient as a conventional stack of spirals trajectory in terms of scan time and signal-to-noise ratio, while reducing coherent aliasing in all three spatial directions and reducing Gibbs ringing due to the nature of collecting data from a sphere in k-space. The trajectory uses a single two-dimensional spiral waveform with the addition of a single orthogonal waveform which is scaled with each repetition, making it relatively easy to implement. Blurring from off-resonance only occurs in two dimensions due to the temporal nature of the sampling. Magn Reson Med 70:413–419, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.