Infections related to implanted medical devices have become a significant health care issue in recent decades. Increasing numbers of medical devices are in use, often in an aging population, and these devices are implanted against a background of increasing antibiotic-resistant bacterial populations. Progressively more antibiotic resistant infections, requiring ever more refined treatment options, are therefore predicted to emerge with greater frequency in the coming decades. Improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these device-associated infections will remain priority targets both for clinicians and the translational research community charged with addressing these challenges. Preclinical strategies, predictive of ultimate clinical efficacy, should serve as a control point for effective translation of new technologies to clinical applications. The development of new anti-infective medical devices requires a validated preclinical testing protocol; however, reliable validation of experimental and preclinical antimicrobial methodologies currently suffers from a variety of technical limitations. These include the lack of agreement or standardisation of experimental protocols, a general lack of correlation between in vitro and in vivo preclinical results and lack of validation between in vivo preclinical implant infection models and clinical (human) results. Device-associated infections pose additional challenges to practicing clinicians concerning diagnosis and treatment, both of which are complicated by the biofilms formed on the medical device. The critical challenges facing both preclinical research and clinical laboratories in improving both diagnosis and treatment of medical device-associated infections are the focus of this review.