Abstract Background Neoadjuvant-chemotherapy (NAC) is considered the standard treatment for locally advanced breast carcinomas. Accurate assessment of disease response is fundamental to increase the chances of successful breast-conserving surgery and to avoid local recurrence. The purpose of this study was to compare contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM) and contrast-enhanced-MRI (MRI) in the evaluation of tumor response to NAC. Methods This prospective study was approved by the institutional review board and written informed consent was obtained. Fifty-four consenting women with breast cancer and indication of NAC were consecutively enrolled between October 2012 and December 2014. Patients underwent both CESM and MRI before, during and after NAC. MRI was performed first, followed by CESM within 3 days. Response to therapy was evaluated for each patient, comparing the size of the residual lesion measured on CESM and MRI performed after NAC to the pathological response on surgical specimens (gold standard), independently of and blinded to the results of the other test. The agreement between measurements was evaluated using Lin’s coefficient. The agreement between measurements using CESM and MRI was tested at each step of the study, before, during and after NAC. And last of all, the variation in the largest dimension of the tumor on CESM and MRI was assessed according to the parameters set in RECIST 1.1 criteria, focusing on pathological complete response (pCR). Results A total of 46 patients (85%) completed the study. CESM predicted pCR better than MRI (Lin’s coefficient 0.81 and 0.59, respectively). Both methods tend to underestimate the real extent of residual tumor (mean 4.1mm in CESM, 7.5mm in MRI). The agreement between measurements using CESM and MRI was 0.96, 0.94 and 0.76 before, during and after NAC respectively. The distinction between responders and non-responders with CESM and MRI was identical for 45/46 patients. In the assessment of CR, sensitivity and specificity were 100% and 84%, respectively, for CESM, and 87% and 60% for MRI. Conclusion CESM and MRI lesion size measurements were highly correlated. CESM seems at least as reliable as MRI in assessing the response to NAC, and may be an alternative if MRI is contraindicated or its availability is limited.