Despite a myriad of technical advances in medical imaging, as well as the growing need to address the global impact of pulmonary diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, on health and quality of life, it remains challenging to obtain in vivo regional depiction and quantification of the most basic physiological functions of the lung-gas delivery to the airspaces and gas uptake by the lung parenchyma and blood-in a manner suitable for routine application in humans. We report a method based on MRI of hyperpolarized xenon-129 that permits simultaneous observation of the 3D distributions of ventilation (gas delivery) and gas uptake, as well as quantification of regional gas uptake based on the associated ventilation. Subjects with lung disease showed variations in gas uptake that differed from those in ventilation in many regions, suggesting that gas uptake as measured by this technique reflects such features as underlying pathological alterations of lung tissue or of local blood flow. Furthermore, the ratio of the signal associated with gas uptake to that associated with ventilation was substantially altered in subjects with lung disease compared with healthy subjects. This MRI-based method provides a way to quantify relationships among gas delivery, exchange, and transport, and appears to have significant potential to provide more insight into lung disease.