OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate postinfarction myocardial oedema in humans with particular reference to the longitudinal course, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). DESIGN: Prospective observational study. Subjects were studied one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year after presenting with a myocardial infarct. SETTING: Cardiology and magnetic resonance departments in a Danish university hospital. PATIENTS: 10 patients (three women, seven men), mean (SEM) age 58.2 (3.20) years, with a first transmural myocardial infarct. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Location and duration of postinfarction myocardial oedema. RESULTS: All patients had signs of postinfarction myocardial oedema. The magnetic resonance images were evaluated by two blinded procedures, employing two MRI and two ECG observers: (1) MRI determined oedema location was compared with the ECG determined site of infarction and almost complete agreement was found; (2) the time course of postinfarction myocardial oedema was explored semiquantitatively, using an image ranking procedure. Myocardial oedema was greatest at the initial examination one week after the infarction, with a gradual decline during the following months (Spearman's rank correlation analysis: rho(observer 1) = 0.94 (p < 0.0001) and rho(observer 2) = 0.97 (p < 0.0001)). The median duration of oedema was six months. CONCLUSIONS: Postinfarction myocardial oedema seems surprisingly long lasting. This observation is of potential clinical interest because the oedema may have prognostic significance.