Conclusions. Whole-body MRI is feasible for the tumor staging of patients with malignant head and neck tumors and appears to be a quick, reliable and proven alternative in general and for patients with contraindications to CT. This examination minimizes the logistical effort required compared to multimodality strategies. Its economic impact remains to be determined. Objective. To assess the performance of whole-body MRI for staging patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck region. Material and methods. This was a randomized, prospective clinical study. For tumor staging, 21 patients (mean age 56.7 years; range 43-80 years) with advanced malignant head and neck tumors underwent whole-body MRI in addition to routinely performed imaging investigations, including sonography, chest X-ray, CT of the head, neck and thorax and endoscopy. All investigations were accomplished within a period of 10±3 days in a random order. A randomized, blinded, consensus assessment of all the whole-body MRI examinations was performed by two radiologists. The localization and extent of the primary tumor and metastases were documented for whole-body MRI and compared to the standard of reference (all other imaging modalities as well as histology). Point estimates of the diagnostic accuracy of whole-body MRI were calculated. Results. In accordance with the standard of reference, the overall TNM category was correctly determined with whole-body MRI in all 21 patients. However, four patients were classified as having carcinoma of unknown primary, as the primary tumor was not found with any imaging modality. Two patients had mediastinal, pulmonary and hepatic metastases.