The viability of the new technique of hyperpolarized (129)Xe MRI (HypX-MRI) for imaging organs other than the lungs depends on whether the spin-lattice relaxation time, T(1), of (129)Xe is sufficiently long in the blood. In previous experiments by the authors, the T(1) was found to be strongly dependent upon the oxygenation of the blood, with T(1) increasing from about 3 s in deoxygenated samples to about 10 s in oxygenated samples. Contrarily, Tseng et al. (J. Magn. Reson. 1997; 126: 79-86) reported extremely long T(1) values deduced from an indirect experiment in which hyperpolarized (129)Xe was used to create a 'blood-foam'. They found that oxygenation decreased T(1). Pivotal to their experiment is the continual and rapid exchange of hyperpolarized (129)Xe between the gas phase (within blood-foam bubbles) and the dissolved phase (in the skin of the bubbles); this necessitated a complicated analysis to extract the T(1) of (129)Xe in blood. In the present study, the experimental design minimizes gas exchange after the initial bolus of hyperpolarized (129)Xe has been bubbled through the sample. This study confirms that oxygenation increases the T(1) of (129)Xe in blood, from about 4 s in freshly drawn venous blood, to about 13 s in blood oxygenated to arterial levels, and also shifts the red blood cell resonance to higher frequency.