The science of 'theranostics' plays a crucial role in personalized medicine, which represents the future of patient management. Over the last decade an increasing research effort has focused on the development of nanoparticle-based molecular-imaging and drug-delivery approaches, emerging as a multidisciplinary field that shows promise in understanding the components, processes, dynamics and therapies of a disease at a molecular level. The potential of nanometer-sized agents for early detection, diagnosis and personalized treatment of diseases is extraordinary. They have found applications in almost all clinically relevant biomedical imaging modality. In this review, a number of these approaches will be presented with a particular emphasis on MRI and optical imaging-based techniques. We have discussed both established molecular-imaging approaches and recently developed innovative strategies, highlighting the seminal studies and a number of successful examples of theranostic nanomedicine, especially in the areas of cardiovascular and cancer therapy.