Nanoparticles are frequently suggested as diagnostic agents. However, except for iron oxide nanoparticles, diagnostic nanoparticles have been barely incorporated into clinical use so far. This is predominantly due to difficulties in achieving acceptable pharmacokinetic properties and reproducible particle uniformity as well as to concerns about toxicity, biodegradation, and elimination. Reasonable indications for the clinical utilization of nanoparticles should consider their biologic behavior. For example, many nanoparticles are taken up by macrophages and accumulate in macrophage-rich tissues. Thus, they can be used to provide contrast in liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and inflammatory lesions (eg, atherosclerotic plaques). Furthermore, cells can be efficiently labeled with nanoparticles, enabling the localization of implanted (stem) cells and tissue-engineered grafts as well as in vivo migration studies of cells. The potential of using nanoparticles for molecular imaging is compromised because their pharmacokinetic properties are difficult to control. Ideal targets for nanoparticles are localized on the endothelial luminal surface, whereas targeted nanoparticle delivery to extravascular structures is often limited and difficult to separate from an underlying enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. The majority of clinically used nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems are based on the EPR effect, and, for their more personalized use, imaging markers can be incorporated to monitor biodistribution, target site accumulation, drug release, and treatment efficacy. In conclusion, although nanoparticles are not always the right choice for molecular imaging (because smaller or larger molecules might provide more specific information), there are other diagnostic and theranostic applications for which nanoparticles hold substantial clinical potential.