PURPOSE: To design and validate a radiofrequency (RF) array coil for cervical spinal cord imaging at 7T. METHODS: A 19-channel receive array with a four-channel transmit array was developed on a close-fitting coil former at 7T. Transmit efficiency and specific absorption rate were evaluated in a B1 + mapping study and an electromagnetic model. Receive signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and noise amplification for parallel imaging were evaluated and compared with a commercial 3T 19-channel head-neck array and a 7T four-channel spine array. The performance of the array was qualitatively demonstrated in human volunteers using high-resolution imaging (down to 300 mum in-plane). RESULTS: The transmit and receive arrays showed good bench performance. The SNR was approximately 4.2-fold higher in the 7T receive array at the location of the cord with respect to the 3T coil. The g-factor results showed an additional acceleration was possible with the 7T array. In vivo imaging was feasible and showed high SNR and tissue contrast. CONCLUSION: The highly parallel transmit and receive arrays were demonstrated to be fit for spinal cord imaging at 7T. The high sensitivity of the receive coil combined with ultra-high field will likely improve investigations of microstructure and tissue segmentation in the healthy and pathological spinal cord. Magn Reson Med, 2013. (c) 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.