Despite promising results in preclinical stroke research, translation of experimental data into clinical therapy has been difficult. One reason is the heterogeneity of the disease with outcomes ranging from complete recovery to continued decline. A successful treatment in one situation may be ineffective, or even harmful, in another. To overcome this, treatment must be tailored according to the individual based on identification of the risk of damage and estimation of potential recovery. Neuroimaging, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), could be the tool for a rapid comprehensive assessment in acute stroke with the potential to guide treatment decisions for a better clinical outcome. This review describes current MRI techniques used to characterize stroke in a preclinical research setting, as well as in the clinic. Furthermore, we will discuss current developments and the future potential of neuroimaging for stroke outcome prediction.