Conventional radiology (CR) is a major tool for the diagnosis and assessment of early arthritis. However, CR does not image the primary pathology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), i.e. the synovium, and is insensitive for radiological erosions. New techniques, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasonography (US) have shown their potential to improve on the sensitivity of CR. This article reviews the current status of this approach in early disease.