PURPOSE: To assess the feasibility of a modified phase-contrast MRI technique (MR Elastography) for quantitatively assessing the mechanical properties of hepatic tissues by imaging propagating acoustic shear waves. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Both phantom and human studies were performed to develop and optimize a practical imaging protocol by visualizing and investigating the diffraction field of shear waves generated from pneumatic longitudinal drivers. The effects of interposed ribs in a transcostal approach were also investigated. A gradient echo MRE pulse sequence was adapted for shear wave imaging in the liver during suspended respiration, and then tested to measure hepatic shear stiffness in 13 healthy volunteers and 1 patient with chronic liver disease to determine the potential of non-invasively detecting liver fibrosis. RESULTS: Phantom studies demonstrate that longitudinal waves generated by the driver are mode-converted to shear waves in a distribution governed by diffraction principles. The transcostal approach was determined to be the most effective method for generating shear waves in human studies. Hepatic stiffness measurements in the 13 normal volunteers demonstrated a mean value of 2.0±0.2kPa. The shear stiffness measurement in the patient was much higher at 8.5kPa. CONCLUSION: MR Elastography of the liver shows promise as a method to non-invasively detect and characterize diffuse liver disease, potentially reducing the need for biopsy to diagnose hepatic fibrosis.