This paper describes the use of 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for 3D mapping of the relative density distribution in pharmaceutical tablets manufactured under controlled conditions. The tablets are impregnated with a compatible liquid. The technique involves imaging of the presence of liquid which occupies the open pore space. The method does not require special calibration as the signal is directly proportional to the porosity for the imaging conditions used. The NMR imaging method is validated using uniform density flat faced tablets and also by direct comparison with X-ray computed tomography. The results illustrate (1) the effect of die wall friction on density distribution by compressing round, curved faced tablets using clean and pre-lubricated tooling, (2) the evolution of density distribution during compaction for both clean and pre-lubricated die wall conditions, by imaging tablets compressed to different compaction forces, and (3) the effect of tablet image on density distribution by compressing two complex shape tablets in identical dies to the same average density using punches with different geometries.