Effective means for controlled delivery of nutrients and nutraceuticals are needed. Whey protein-based gels, as a model system and as a potential delivery system, exhibit pH-dependent swelling when placed in aqueous solutions. Understanding the physics that govern gel swelling is thus important when designing gel-based delivery platforms. The extent of swelling over time was monitored gravimetrically. In addition to gravimetric measurements, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) a real-time noninvasive imaging technique that quantified changes in geometry and water content of these gels was utilized. Heat-set whey protein gels were prepared at pH 7 and swelling was monitored in aqueous solutions with pH values of 2.5, 7, and 10. Changes in dimension over time, as characterized by the number of voxels in an image, were correlated to gravimetric measurements. Excellent correlations between mass uptake and volume change (R2 = 0.99) were obtained for the gels in aqueous solutions at pH 7 and 10, but not for gels in the aqueous solution at pH 2.5. To provide insight into the mechanisms for water uptake, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation times were measured in independent experiments. The relaxation spectrum for the spin-spin relaxation time (T(2)) showed the presence of 3 proton pools for pH 7 and 10 trials and 4 proton pools for pH 2.5 trials. Results demonstrate that MRI and NMR relaxation measurements provided information about swelling in whey protein gels that can constitute a new means for investigating and developing effective delivery systems for foods.