Against the Belgian background of national planning of MRI units and a detailed reimbursement scheme, a study was undertaken to investigate the cost and productivity of MRI units in different investment scenarios and for various operational schedules. This article focuses on capital costs, not operating cost. Using data from a hospital survey and manufacturers, total capital costs per examination were simulated. The survey revealed considerable variation in operational hours, with on average 66 hours per week, resulting in 6 300 examinations per year per unit. Whilst operational hours remained approximately unchanged over the last 8 years, the number of examinations per unit grew by on average 6% per year. Correspondingly, average examination time declined from 45 to 31 minutes. The findings suggest that, mainly due to the increased productivi ty, capital costs per examination decreased considerably in the examined period. In 2008, the average capital cost per examination is estimated to vary from €23 to €45 for 1.5 Tesla units and from €32 to €62 for 3 Tesla units, assuming an equal examination speed for both types of units.