Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most accurate technique for diagnosing and delineating the extent of both invasive and in-situ breast cancer and is increasingly being used as part of the preoperative work-up to assess the local extent of disease. It is proving invaluable in providing information that allows successful single-stage surgery. An inevitable consequence of the high sensitivity of MRI is that it will identify additional lesions that may or may not represent significant extra disease. This may complicate and delay the preoperative process. This paper outlines a strategy for managing MRI-detected lesions to optimize the benefits of breast MRI as a local staging tool while minimizing the false-positive diagnoses. It discusses the importance of good technique to reduce the number of indeterminate lesions. Methods to refine the patient pathway to minimize delays are discussed. The format of MRI reporting is discussed in detail as is the usefulness of discussion of cases at multidisciplinary meetings. Illustrative cases are used to clarify the points made.