Susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) is a BOLD‐sensitive method for visualizing anatomical features such as small cerebral veins in high detail. The purpose of this study was to evaluate high‐resolution SWI in combination with a modulation of blood oxygenation by breathing of air, carbogen, and oxygen and to directly visualize the effects of changing blood oxygenation on the magnetic field inside and around venous blood vessels. Signal changes associated with the response to carbogen and oxygen breathing were evaluated in different anatomic regions in healthy volunteers and in two patients with brain tumors. In the magnitude images inhalation of carbogen led to significant signal intensity changes ranging from +4.4 ± 1.9% to +9.5 ± 1.4% in gray matter and no significant changes in thalamus, putamen, and white matter. During oxygen breathing mean signal changes were smaller than during carbogen breathing. The method is capable of producing high‐resolution functional maps of BOLD response to carbogen and oxygen breathing as well as high‐resolution images of venous vasculature. Its sensitivity to changes in blood oxygenation was demonstrated by in vivo visualization of the BOLD effect via phase imaging. Magn Reson Med 54:87–95, 2005. © 2005 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.