Interest in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging as a major diagnostic tool in veterinary clinical medicine is increasing. Most MR studies are performed with the use of contrast enhancement via intravenous injection of paramagnetic gadolinium-containing contrast media. A vast number of publications are available regarding the use of contrast media in humans. The purpose of this paper is to assist practicing veterinary radiologists in understanding mechanisms of MR contrast enhancement. This paper reviews certain aspects of MR contrast enhancement, including physical, chemical and biologic characteristics of most common MR contrast media targeted primarily at the central nervous system (CNS). Authors also describe processes that explain changes in signal intensity on the MR images.