© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. The clinical use of MRI in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has advanced markedly over the past few years. Technical improvements and continuously emerging data from clinical trials and observational studies have contributed to the enhanced performance of this tool for achieving a prompt diagnosis in patients with MS. The aim of this article is to provide guidelines for the implementation of MRI of the brain and spinal cord in the diagnosis of patients who are suspected of having MS. These guidelines are based on an extensive review of the recent literature, as well as on the personal experience of the members of the MAGNIMS (Magnetic Resonance Imaging in MS) network. We address the indications, timing, coverage, reporting and interpretation of MRI studies in patients with suspected MS. Our recommendations are intended to help radiologists and neurologists standardize and optimize the use of MRI in clinical practice for the diagnosis of MS.