Abnormal choline metabolism is emerging as a metabolic hallmark that is associated with oncogenesis and tumour progression. Following transformation, the modulation of enzymes that control anabolic and catabolic pathways causes increased levels of choline-containing precursors and breakdown products of membrane phospholipids. These increased levels are associated with proliferation, and recent studies emphasize the complex reciprocal interactions between oncogenic signalling and choline metabolism. Because choline-containing compounds are detected by non-invasive magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), increased levels of these compounds provide a non-invasive biomarker of transformation, staging and response to therapy. Furthermore, enzymes of choline metabolism, such as choline kinase, present novel targets for image-guided cancer therapy.