Mitral and aortic valve replacement is a procedure which is common in cardiac surgery. Some of these replacement valves are mechanical and contain moving metal parts. Should the patient in whom such a valve has been implanted be involved in magnetic resonance imaging, there is a possible dangerous interaction between the moving metal parts and the static magnetic field due to the Lenz effect. Mathematical models of two relatively common forms of single-leaflet valves have been derived and the magnitude of the torque which opposes the motion of the valve leaflet has been calculated for a valve disc of solid metal. In addition, a differential model of a ring-strengthener valve type has been considered to determine the likely significance of the Lenz effect in the context of the human heart. For common magnetic field strengths at present, i.e. 1 to 2 T, the effect is not particularly significant. However, there is a marked increase in back pressure as static magnetic field strength increases. There are concerns that, since field strengths in the range 3 to 4 T are increasingly being used, the Lenz effect could become significant. At 5 to 10 T the malfunction of the mechanical heart valve could cause the heart to behave as though it is diseased. For unhealthy or old patients this could possibly prove fatal.