OBJECTIVE: To investigate the performance of postmortem magnetic resonance imaging (pmMRI) in identification and characterization of lethal myocardial infarction in a non-invasive manner on human corpses. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Before forensic autopsy, 20 human forensic corpses were examined on a 1.5-T system for the presence of myocardial infarction. Short axis, transversal and longitudinal long axis images (T1-weighted; T2-weighted; PD-weighted) were acquired in situ. In subsequent autopsy, the section technique was adapted to short axis images. Histological investigations were conducted to confirm autopsy and/or radiological diagnoses. RESULTS: Nineteen myocardial lesions were detected and age staged with pmMRI, of which 13 were histologically confirmed (chronic, subacute and acute). Six lesions interpreted as peracute by pmMRI showed no macroscopic or histological finding. Five of the six peracute lesions correlated well to coronary pathology, and one case displayed a severe hypertrophic alteration. CONCLUSION: pmMRI reliably demonstrates chronic, subacute and acute myocardial infarction in situ. In peracute cases pmMRI may display ischemic lesions undetectable at autopsy and routine histology. pmMRI has the potential to substantiate autopsy and to counteract the loss of reliable information on causes of death due to the recent disappearance of the clinical autopsy.