Hyperpolarized (HP) 3He MRI is an emerging tool in the diagnosis and evaluation of pulmonary diseases involving bronchoconstriction, such as asthma. Previously, airway diameters from dynamic HP 3He MR images of the lung were assessed manually and subjectively, and were thus prone to uncertainties associated with human error and partial volume effects. A model-based algorithm capable of fully utilizing pixel intensity profile information and attaining subpixel resolution has been developed to measure surrogate airway diameters from HP 3He MR static projection images of plastic tubes. This goal was achieved by fitting ideal pixel intensity profiles for various diameter (6.4 to 19.1 mm) circular tubes to actual pixel intensity data. A phantom was constructed from plastic tubes of various diameters connected in series and filled with water mixed with contrast agent. Projection MR images were then taken of the phantom. The favorable performance of the model-based algorithm compared to manual assessment demonstrates the viability of our approach. The manual and algorithm approaches yielded diameter measurements that generally stayed within 1 x the pixel dimension. However, inconsistency of the manual approach can be observed from the larger standard deviations of its measured values. The method was then extended to HP 3He MRI, producing encouraging results at tube diameters characteristic of airways beyond the second generation, thereby justifying their application to lung airway imaging and measurement. Potential obstacles when measuring airway diameters using this method are discussed.