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A programmable data acquisition and control system was developed for use in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The controller consists of two functional blocks: a host system and a remote system. The remote system resides inside the shielded room housing the magnet. The host, an IBM compatible personal computer, is located at the technician's console. Communication between these devices is implemented over a fiber optic RS-232 data link. This configuration allows experiments to be performed remotely by using a series of keyboard typed commands, by programming the remote system. As an example of its capabilities, the controller was used to tune and match arrays of receiver coils for localized imaging and to record the rectal temperature of a sedated rat during image acquisition.