Tagged magnetic resonance imaging (tMRI) is a well-known noninvasive method for studying regional heart dynamics. It offers great potential for quantitative analysis of a variety of kine(ma)tic parameters, but its clinical use has so far been limited, in part due to the lack of robustness and accuracy of existing tag tracking algorithms in dealing with low (and intrinsically time-varying) image quality. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of four frequently used concepts found in the literature (optical flow, harmonic phase (HARP) magnetic resonance imaging, active contour fitting, and non-rigid image registration) for cardiac motion analysis in 2D tMRI image sequences, using both synthetic image data (with ground truth) and real data from preclinical (small animal) and clinical (human) studies. In addition we propose a new probabilistic method for tag tracking that serves as a complementary step to existing methods. The new method is based on a Bayesian estimation framework, implemented by means of reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, and combines information about the heart dynamics, the imaging process, and tag appearance. The experimental results demonstrate that the new method improves the performance of even the best of the four previous methods. Yielding higher consistency, accuracy, and intrinsic tag reliability assessment, the proposed method allows for improved analysis of cardiac motion. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.