Aims The aim of this study is to quantify altered myocardial calcium handling in non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy using magnetic resonance imaging. Methods and results Patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (n = 10) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (n = 17) underwent both gadolinium and manganese contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging and were compared with healthy volunteers (n = 20). Differential manganese uptake (Ki) was assessed using a two-compartment Patlak model. Compared with healthy volunteers, reduction in T1 with manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging was lower in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy [mean reduction 257 ± 45 (21%) vs. 288 ± 34 (26%) ms, P < 0.001], with higher T1 at 40 min (948 ± 57 vs. 834 ± 28 ms, P < 0.0001). In patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, reductions in T1 were less than healthy volunteers [mean reduction 251 ± 86 (18%) and 277 ± 34 (23%) vs. 288 ± 34 (26%) ms, with and without fibrosis respectively, P < 0.001]. Myocardial manganese uptake was modelled, rate of uptake was reduced in both dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in comparison with healthy volunteers (mean Ki 19 ± 4, 19 ± 3, and 23 ± 4 mL/100 g/min, respectively; P = 0.0068). In patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, manganese uptake rate correlated with left ventricular ejection fraction (r2 = 0.61, P = 0.009). Rate of myocardial manganese uptake demonstrated stepwise reductions across healthy myocardium, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy without fibrosis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with fibrosis providing absolute discrimination between the healthy myocardium and fibrosed myocardium (mean Ki 23 ± 4, 19 ± 3, and 13 ± 4 mL/100 g/min, respectively; P < 0.0001). Conclusion The rate of manganese uptake in both dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy provides a measure of altered myocardial calcium handling. This holds major promise for the detection and monitoring of dysfunctional myocardium, with the potential for early intervention and prognostication.