A frequent problem in imaging is assessing whether a new imaging system is an improvement over an existing standard. Observer performance methods, in particular the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) paradigm, are widely used in this context. In ROC analysis lesion location information is not used and consequently scoring ambiguities can arise in tasks, such as nodule detection, involving finding localized lesions. This paper reviews progress in the free-response ROC (FROC) paradigm in which the observer marks and rates suspicious regions and the location information is used to determine whether lesions were correctly localized. Reviewed are FROC data analysis, a search-model for simulating FROC data, predictions of the model and a method for estimating the parameters. The search model parameters are physically meaningful quantities that can guide system optimization.