In vitro as well as in vivo studies have shown prolonged T1 relaxation times in patients with acute leukemia. The mechanism behind this finding is not known. In order to evaluate if this was specific for leukemia we examined eight patients with polycythemia vera, representing a condition with a rather benign bone marrow neoplasia. In this group of patients we found prolonged T1 relaxation times but normal T2 relaxation times. This may indicate that the prolonged T1 relaxation time seen in leukemic bone marrow is not due to the malignant cell per se.