Magnetic nanoparticles have become important tools for the imaging of prevalent diseases, such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and others. While first generation nanoparticles were fairly nonspecific, newer generations have been targeted to specific cell types and molecular targets via affinity ligands. Commonly, these ligands emerge from phage or small molecule screens, or are based on antibodies or aptamers. Secondary reporters and combined therapeutic molecules have further opened potential clinical applications of these materials. This review summarizes some of the recent biomedical applications of these newer magnetic nanomaterials.