Abstract Titanium substitution in magnetite, Fe 3O 4, produces additional ferrous ions. In contrast to many nominally similar spinels, these ions occupy the smaller tetrahedral sites and impart an additional trigonal distortion to the geometry of the octahedral ferrous ions. An observed increase in coercivity can be attributed to this distortion if the sign of the trigonal field is negative. Mössbauer data confirm the existence of the trigonal distortion but the sign is indeterminate because the quadrupole splitting parameter could not be obtained from the ultrabroad magnetic spectra observed at low temperatures. From measurements of the Mössbauer spectra of the titanium-rich specimens, it was concluded that the gross broadening observed was attributable to variation of local symmetry caused by the disordering of cations on the octahedral sites.