A combination of multiple gradient-echo imaging and exploratory data analysis (EDA), i.e. fuzzy cluster analysis (FCA), is proposed for separation and characterization of BOLD activation in single-shot spiral functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments at 3 T. Differentiation of functional activation using FCA is performed by clustering pixel signal changes (DeltaS) as a function of echo time (TE). Further vascular classification is supported by the localization of activation and the comparison with a single-exponential decay model. In some subjects, an additional indication for large vessels within a voxel was found as oscillation of the fMRI signal difference vs echo time (TE). Such large vessels may be separated from small vessel activation and, therefore, our proposed procedure might prove useful if a more specific functional localization is desired in fMRI. In addition to the signal change DeltaS, DeltaT(2)*/T(2)* is significantly different between activated regions. Averaged over all eight subjects DeltaT(2)* is 1.7 +/- 0.2 ms in ROIs with the highest signal change characterized as containing large vessels, whereas in ROIs corresponding to microvascular environment average DeltaT(2)* values are 0.8 +/- 0.1 ms.