- Background Magnetic resonance imaging has been recognized for years as the safest and most precise imaging method, particularly for children. The accuracy of MRI depends on avoidance of patient movement during the study. This may be difficult for children and may require anesthesia. Objective We evaluated an introductory instruction program as an assistive tool in performing MRI without anesthesia. Materials and methods In one institution, 121 children were randomized to undergo full interactive pre-MRI instruction (n=64), which included an instructional booklet, movie and simulator practice, or partial instruction (n=57), comprised of the booklet only. All researchers and health care professionals involved, except for the one who instructed the families, were masked to the group allocation. Parents’ anxiety, according to the Spielberger state anxiety inventory, was measured. Results Median age was 7.4 years (range: 5 years–16 years). Anesthesia was required for fewer children who received full compared to partial instruction: 17 (27%) vs. 27 (47%), P≤0.02. The median anxiety level prior to instruction was higher than the median level after instruction, for both the partial and full instruction groups. Conclusion Instruction including simulator practice was associated with a decreased need for anesthesia among children undergoing MRI scans.