Observations of reversibility of cardiac contractile dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease and ischemia were first made more than 40 years ago. Since that time a wealth of basic science and clinical data has been gathered exploring the mechanisms of this phenomenon of myocardial viability and relevance to clinical care of patients. Advances in cardiac imaging techniques have contributed greatly to knowledge in the area, first with thallium-201 imaging, then later with Tc-99m-based tracers for SPECT imaging and metabolic tracers used in conjunction with positron emission tomography (PET), most commonly F-18 FDG in conjunction with blood flow imaging with N-13 ammonia or Rb-82 Cl. In parallel, stress echocardiography has made great progress also. Over time observational studies in patients using these techniques accumulated and were later summarized in several meta-analyses. More recently, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) has contributed further information in combination with either late gadolinium enhancement imaging or dobutamine stress. This review discusses the tracer and CMR imaging techniques, the pooled observational data, the results of clinical trials, and ongoing investigation in the field. It also examines some of the current challenges and issues for researchers and explores the emerging potential of combined PET/CMR imaging for myocardial viability.