Normal hip joint function is fundamental in running-, jumping-, and kicking-based sporting activities. Hip disorders do not account for a large portion of exercise-related injuries, but they can pose a clinical dilemma since symptoms tend to be non-specific. Conventional radiographs may demonstrate some causes of hip pain, such as stress fractures and degenerative joint disease. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the hip has proven valuable in the diagnosis of radiographically occult osseous abnormalities and periarticular soft tissue disorders such as stress fractures, avulsion injuries, musculotendinous abnormalities, and bursitis. Conventional MR imaging has been less useful in the evaluation of intra-articular lesions including acetabular labral tears, intra-articular loose bodies, and cartilage lesions. The visualization of intra-articular structures and their abnormalities can be improved by the injection of diluted Gadolinium, which distends the capsule and leaks into labral tears. This article will focus on the use of conventional radiography and MR imaging in recreational and professional athletes with painful hip joints, and where possible it will compare MR imaging with other diagnostic modalities such as bone scan and CT.