Prostate cancer is the most common solid-organ malignancy among American men. It is currently most commonly diagnosed on random systematic biopsies prompted by elevated serum PSA levels. Multi-parametric MRI (MP-MRI) of the prostate has emerged as an anatomic and functional imaging modality, which offers accurate detection, localization and staging of prostate cancer. Recently, MP-MRI has gained an increasing role in guiding biopsies to sites of abnormality and in monitoring patients on active surveillance. Here, we discuss the historical development, current role, and potential future directions of MP-MRI in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media.