© 2015 The Author(s) Objectives: Liver-specific MRI is a fast-growing field, with technological and protocol advancements providing more robust imaging and allowing a greater depth of information per examination. This article reports the evidence for, and expert thinking on, current challenges in liver-specific MRI, as discussed at the 7th International Forum for Liver MRI, which was held in Shanghai, China, in October 2013. Methods: Topics discussed included the role of gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI in the differentiation of focal nodular hyperplasia from hepatocellular adenoma and small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from small intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (in patients with chronic liver disease), the differentiation of low-grade dysplastic nodule (DN) from pre-malignant high-grade DN and early HCC, and treatment planning and assessment of treatment response for patients with HCC and colorectal liver metastasis. Optimization of the gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI protocol to gain robust arterial and hepatobiliary phase images was also discussed. Results and conclusions: Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI demonstrates added value for the detection and characterization of focal liver lesions and shows promise in a number of new indications, including regional liver functional assessment and patient monitoring after therapy; however, more data are needed in some areas, and further developments are needed to translate cutting-edge techniques into clinical practice. Key Points: • Liver-specific MRI is a fast-growing field, with many technological and protocol advancements.• Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI demonstrates value for detecting and characterizing focal liver lesions.• Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI shows promise in regional functional assessment and patient monitoring.• Further developments are needed to translate cutting-edge techniques into clinical practice.