BACKGROUND In recent years, MR techniques have been widely used for displaying hepatic vessels and measuring its hemodynamics, especially in the management of the patients with portal hypertension. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) in the treatment of patients with portal hypertension. METHODS A series of 38 patients with portal hypertension and 12 control patients were enrolled in this study. Three dimensional dynamic contrast-enhanced (3D-DCE) MRA and two dimensional phase-contrast (2D-PC) MR were used for the study of portal venous anatomy and its hemodynamics, which were compared with those of indirect portal-venography (IPVG) and doppler ultrasonography (DUS). RESULTS The anatomical imaging of the portal venous system could be displayed clearly in 3D-DCE MRA and the imaging quality of MRA was better than that of IPVG. The hemodynamic information from 2D-PC MR was closely related to that from DUS. CONCLUSIONS As a non-invasive technique, MRA can display the anatomy of the portal venous system clearly and measure its hemodynamics exactly. It is very useful and can be applied if necessary in the management of patients with portal hypertension.