Imaging techniques such as musculoskeletal ultrasonography (MUS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are playing an increasingly important role in the assessment of patients with inflammatory arthritis. Such modalities are now used routinely in the evaluation of joint, tendon and soft tissue inflammation and bone damage in many early arthritis clinics. They have the ability to directly visualise, characterise and quantify the earliest inflammatory changes and have proved not only to be useful additional complimentary clinical tools to improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis, direct appropriate treatment, monitor response to therapy, measure disease progression and outcome but also continue to contribute to our understanding of disease pathogenesis. These imaging methods may therefore offer a significant advantage as they endorse the principles of early diagnosis and optimal targeted therapy essential to providing the most favourable long term outcome for patients with inflammatory arthritis. This article reviews the current evidence supporting the role of MUS and MRI in the assessment of patients with inflammatory arthritis.