MRI and MRS techniques are being applied to the characterisation of various aspects of the tumour microenvironment and to the assessment of tumour response to therapy. For example, kinetic parameters describing tumour blood vessel flow and permeability can be derived from dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI data and have been correlated with a positive tumour response to antivascular therapies. The ongoing development and validation of noninvasive, high-resolution anatomical/molecular MR techniques will equip us with the means to detect specific tumour biomarkers early on, and then to monitor the efficacy of cancer treatments efficiently and reliably, all within a clinically relevant time frame. Reliable tumour microenvironment imaging biomarkers will provide obvious advantages by enabling tumour-specific treatment tailoring and potentially improving patient outcome. However, for routine clinical application across many disease types, such imaging biomarkers must be quantitative, robust, reproducible, sufficiently sensitive and cost-effective. These characteristics are all difficult to achieve in practice, but image biomarker development and validation have been greatly facilitated by an increasing number of pertinent preclinical in vivo cancer models. Emphasis must now be placed on discovering whether the preclinical results translate into an improvement in patient care and, therefore, overall survival.