Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is frequently used to diagnose abnormalities in the spinal intervertebral discs. Owing to the non-isotropic resolution of typical MR spinal scans, physicians prefer to align the scanner plane with the disc in order to maximize the diagnostic value and to facilitate comparison with prior and follow-up studies. Commonly a planning scan is acquired of the whole spine, followed by a diagnostic scan aligned with selected discs of interest. Manual determination of the optimal disc plane is tedious and prone to operator variation. A fast and accurate method to automatically determine the disc alignment can decrease examination time and increase the reliability of diagnosis. We present a validation study of an automatic spine alignment system for determining the orientation of intervertebral discs in MR studies. In order to measure the effectiveness of the automatic alignment system, we compared its performance with human observers. 12 MR spinal scans of adult spines were tested. Two observers independently indicated the intervertebral plane for each disc, and then repeated the procedure on another day, in order to determine the inter- and intra-observer variability associated with manual alignment. Results were also collected for the observers utilizing the automatic spine alignment system, in order to determine the method's consistency and its accuracy with respect to human observers. We found that the results from the automatic alignment system are comparable with the alignment determined by human observers, with the computer showing greater speed and consistency.