Background The purpose of this study was to investigate 3D flow patterns and vessel wall parameters in patients with dilated ascending aorta, age-matched subjects, and healthy volunteers. Methods Thoracic time-resolved 3D phase contrast CMR with 3-directional velocity encoding was applied to 33 patients with dilated ascending aorta (diameter ≥40 mm, age=60±16 years), 15 age-matched normal controls (diameter ≤37 mm, age=68±7.5 years) and 15 young healthy volunteers (diameter ≤30 mm, age=23±2 years). 3D blood flow was visualized and flow patterns were graded regarding presence of supra-physiologic-helix and vortex flow using a semi-quantitative 3-point grading scale. Blood flow velocities, regional wall shear stress (WSS), and oscillatory shear index (OSI) were quantified. Results Incidence and strength of supra-physiologic-helix and vortex flow in the ascending aorta (AAo) was significantly higher in patients with dilated AAo (16/33 and 31/33, grade 0.9±1.0 and 1.5±0.6) than in controls (2/15 and 7/15, grade 0.2 ± 0.6 and 0.6 ± 0.7, P<.05) or healthy volunteers (1/15 and 0/15, grade 0.1 ± 0.3 P<.05). Greater strength of the ascending aortic helix and vortex flow were associated with significant differences in AAo diameters (P<.05). Peak systolic WSS in the ascending aorta and aortic arch was significantly lower in patients with dilated AAo (P<.0157-.0488). AAo diameter positively correlated to time to peak systolic velocities (r=0.30-0.53, P<.04), OSI (r=0.33-0.49, P<0.02) and inversely correlated to peak systolic WSS (r=0.32-0.40, P<.03). Peak systolic WSS was significantly lower in AAo aneurysms at the right and outer curvature within the AAo and proximal arch (P<.01-.05). Conclusions Increase in AAo diameter is significantly correlated with the presence and strength of supra-physiologic-helix and vortex formation in the AAo, as well with decrease in systolic WSS and increase in OSI.