Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) is an evolving tool for determining breast disease, which benefits from the move to imaging at 3 T. It has major capabilities for the diagnosis, detection and monitoring of malignancy. It benefits from being non-invasive and three-dimensional, allowing visualisation of the extent of disease and its angiogenic properties, visualisation of lesion heterogeneity, detection of changes in angiogenic properties before morphological alterations, and the potential to predict the overall response either before the start of therapy or early during treatment. In addition, DCE-MRI is emerging as a powerful tool for screening high-risk patients and for detecting high-grade ductal carcinoma in situ. However, there are also a number of limitations, including the overlap in enhancement patterns between malignant and benign disease, the failure to resolve microscopic disease particularly in the neoadjuvant setting, and the inconsistent predictive value of the enhancement pattern for clinical outcome. Careful consideration should be given to the technical requirements of individual examinations and the need for automation of post-processing techniques to appropriately handle the growing volume of data acquired. Research continues, focusing on the use of higher field strengths with improved spatial and temporal resolution data, improving understanding of the mechanism of contrast enhancement at the cellular level, and developing macromolecular and targeted contrast agents. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.