The choice of the number (N) and orientation of diffusion sampling gradients required to measure accurately the water diffusion tensor remains contentious. Monte Carlo studies have suggested that between 20 and 30 uniformly distributed sampling orientations are required to provide robust estimates of water diffusions parameters. These simulations have not, however, taken into account what effect random subject motion, specifically rotation, might have on optimised gradient schemes, a problem which is especially relevant to clinical diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI). Here this question is investigated using Monte Carlo simulations of icosahedral sampling schemes and in vivo data. These polyhedra-based schemes, which have the advantage that large N can be created from optimised subsets of smaller N, appear to be ideal for the study of restless subjects since if scanning needs to be prematurely terminated it should be possible to identify a subset of images that have been acquired with a near optimised sampling scheme. The simulations and in vivo data show that as N increases, the rotational variance of fractional anisotropy (FA) estimates becomes progressively less dependent on the magnitude of subject rotation (a), while higher FA values are progressively underestimated as a increases. These data indicate that for large subject rotations the B-matrix should be recalculated to provide accurate diffusion anisotropy information. 0 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.