Purpose: To determine the ability of 3.0T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to identify partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and to allow distinction of complete from partial ACL tears. Materials and methods: One hundred seventy-two patients were prospectively studied by 3.0T MR imaging and arthroscopy in our institution. MR images were interpreted in consensus by two experienced reviewers, and the ACL was diagnosed as being normal, partially torn, or completely torn. Diagnostic accuracy of 3.0T MR for the detection of both complete and partial tears of the ACL was calculated using arthroscopy as the standard of reference. Results: There were 132 patients with an intact ACL, 17 had a partial, and 23 had a complete tear of the ACL seen at arthroscopy. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 3.0T MR for complete ACL tears were 83, 99, and 97%, respectively, and, for partial ACL tears, 77, 97, and 95%, respectively. Five of 40 ACL lesions (13%) could not correctly be identified as complete or partial ACL tears. Conclusion: MR imaging at 3.0T represents a highly accurate method for identifying tears of the ACL. However, differentiation between complete and partial ACL tears and identification of partial tears of this ligament remains difficult, even at 3.0T.