We present a non-invasive MRI approach for assessing the water proton resonance frequency (PRF) shifts associated with changes in temperature. This method is based on water saturation shift referencing (WASSR), a method first developed for assessing B0 field inhomogeneity. Temperature-induced water PRF shifts were determined by estimating the frequency of the minimum intensity of the water direct saturation spectrum at each temperature using Lorentzian line-shape fitting. The change in temperature was then calculated from the difference in water PRF shifts between temperatures. Optimal acquisition parameters were first estimated using simulations and later confirmed experimentally. Results in vitro and in vivo showed that the temperature changes measured using the temperature-responsive WASSR (T-WASSR) were in good agreement with those obtained with MR spectroscopy or phase-mapping-based water PRF measurement methods,. In addition, the feasibility of temperature mapping in fat-containing tissue is demonstrated in vitro. In conclusion, the T-WASSR approach provides an alternative for non-invasive temperature mapping by MRI, especially suitable for temperature measurements in fat-containing tissues. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.