Phonological studies have predicted that the dorsal articulations of English /r/ and /l/ correspond with those of schwa and open o, respectively [Gick, Phonology (in press)]. Specifically, /r/ and schwa are hypothesized to share pharyngeal configuration, while /l/ and open o share upper pharyngeal/uvular configuration. To test this prediction, midsagittal MRI images of the vocal tract of a male speaker of American English were collected and midsagittal distance (of airspace above the tongue surface) measured at 44 3‐mm intervals along the vocal tract length. Regions of the vocal tract were defined as pharyngeal, uvular and oral, as in Whalen etal. [JSLHR (in press)], with the pharyngeal region divided into upper and lower halves. Midsagittal distances were collected for eleven sustained vowels plus /r/ and /l/. Distances for average vowels were subtracted point by point from /r/ and /l/ and a single rms calculated within each region of the vocal tract. As predicted, in the upper pharyngeal and upper pharyngeal/uvular regions, /l/ showed the greatest correspondence with open o, while /r/ was most similar to schwa throughout the pharynx. These results support the phonological interpretation of the dorsal gestures of English liquids as vocalic. [Work supported by NIH grant DC‐02717.]