Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast mechanism that can detect dilute CEST agents and microenvironmental properties, with a host of promising applications. Experimental measurement of the CEST effect is complex, and depends on not only CEST agent concentration and exchange rate, but also experimental parameters such as RF irradiation amplitude and scheme. Although echo planar imaging (EPI) has been increasingly used for CEST MRI, the relationship between CEST effect and repetition time (TR), RF irradiation duty cycle (DC) and EPI flip angle (α) has not been fully evaluated and optimized to enhance CEST MRI sensitivity. In addition, our study evaluated gradient echo CEST-EPI by quantifying the CEST effect and its signal-to-noise ratio per unit time (SNRput) as functions of TR, DC and α. We found that CEST effect increased with TR and DC but decreased with α. Importantly, we found that SNRput peaked at intermediate TRs of about twice the T1 and α, at approximately 75°, and increased with RF DC. The simulation results were validated using a dual-pH creatine-gel CEST phantom. In summary, our study provides a useful framework for optimizing CEST MRI experiments.