As we begin the 21st century, musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) is routinely used by an increasing number of rheumatologists throughout Europe and there is a growing interest in the application of MSUS in rheumatological practice in the UK. MSUS allows high-resolution, real-time imaging of articular and periarticular structures and has the advantages of being non-radioactive, inexpensive, portable, highly acceptable to patients and repeatable. There are a number of critical issues that need to be addressed in order to develop the role of MSUS within rheumatology. These include issues of equipment costs, training and certification and the relationship of rheumatologists and radiologists in advancing the field of MSUS. Rheumatologists must demonstrate the relevance of MSUS in their clinical practice through high-quality research. Emerging technologies such as power Doppler and 3D imaging will further improve imaging capabilities and the range of clinical applications of MSUS systems. This paper reviews how MSUS in rheumatology has evolved and the controversies and issues that rheumatologists must now address in developing MSUS as an indispensable, everyday clinical tool.