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Normal hip disorders do not account for a large proportion of exercise-related injuries, but they can pose a clinical dilemma because symptoms tend to be nonspecific. Conventional radiographs may demonstrate some causes of hip pain, such as stress fractures and degenerative joint disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hip has proven valuable in the diagnosis of radiographically occult osseous abnormalities and periarticular soft-tissue disorders such as stress fractures, avulsion injuries, musculotendinous abnormalities, and bursitis. Conventional MRI has been less useful in the evaluation of intra-articular lesions, including acetabular labral tears, intra-articular loose bodies, and cartilage lesions. Visualization of intra-articular structures and their abnormalities can be improved by injection of diluted gadolinium, which distends the capsule and leaks into labral tears. This article focuses on the use of conventional radiography and MRI in recreational and professional athletes with painful hip joints. Where possible, MRI is compared with other diagnostic modalities such as bone scan and computed tomography.