In the past decade, significant progress has been made to visualize atherosclerotic disease. Until recently, imaging technologies mainly focused on lumen and vessel wall visualization. Current advances and knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of initiation and progression of atherosclerosis has emphasized the need for imaging technologies and probes that can image function and biology rather than anatomy. This field of molecular imaging is now in rapid development with new imaging agents that aim at visualizing processes involved in atherosclerosis such as inflammation, macrophage activation, protease activity, angiogenesis, apoptosis, lipid accumulation and thrombus formation. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.