The purpose of this study was to prospectively compare the performance of magnetic resonance (MR) elastography using echo-planar and spin-echo imaging for staging of hepatic fibrosis. Twenty-four patients who had liver biopsy for suspicion of chronic liver disease had MR elastography performed with both spin-echo and echo-planar sequences. At histology, the fibrosis stage was assessed according to METAVIR. The data acquisition time was about 20 min using spin-echo, and only 2 min using echo-planar imaging. The hepatic signal-to-noise ratios were similar on both images (22.51 +/- 5.37 for spin-echo versus 21.02 +/- 4.76 for echo-planar, p = 0.33). The elasticity measurements and the fibrosis stages were strongly correlated. The Spearman correlation coefficients were r = 0.91 (p < 0.01) with spin-echo and r = 0.84 (p < 0.01) with echo-planar sequences. These correlation coefficients did not differ significantly (p = 0.17). A strong correlation was also observed between spin-echo and echo-planar elasticity (r = 0.83, p < 0.001), without systematic bias. The results of our study showed that echo-planar imaging substantially decreased the data acquisition time of MR elastography, while maintaining the image quality and diagnostic performance for staging of liver fibrosis. This suggests that echo-planar MR elastography could replace spin-echo MR elastography in clinical practice.