The aim of this study is three folds: to compare the eight-channel phased-array and standard circularly polarized (CP) head coils in visualiazation of the intracranial vessels, to compare the three-dimentional (3D) time-of-flight (TOF) MR angiography (MRA) techniques, and to define the effects of parallel imaging in 3D TOF MRA. Fifteen healthy volunteers underwent 3D TOF MRA of the intracranial vessels using eight-channel phased-array and CP standard head coils. The following MRA techniques were obtained on each volunteer: (1) conventional 3D TOF MRA with magnetization transfer; (2) 3D TOF MRA with water excitation for background suppression; and (3) low-dose (0.5 ml) gadolinium-enhanced 3D TOF MRA with water excitation. Results are demonstrating that water excitation is a valuable background suppression technique, especially when applied with an eight-channel phased-array head coil. For central and proximal portions of the intracranial arteries, unenhanced TOF MRA with water excitation was the best technique. Low-dose contrast enhanced TOF MRA using an eight-channel phased-array head coil is superior in the evaluation of distal branches over the standard CP head coil. Parallel imaging with an accelaration factor of two allows an important time gain without a significant decrease in vessel evaluation. Water excitation allows better background suppression, especially around the orbits and at the periphery, when compared to conventional acquisitions.