THIS ARTICLE REPRESENTS the first of a 2-part exploration of quantum dots (Qdots) and their application to neurological surgery. Spanning from materials science to immunology, this initial review traces the marriage of imaging physics to biochemical specificity. Qdot science now stands poised to dramatically advance the diagnosis and therapy of neurosurgical conditions. Qdot research efforts currently involve several disciplines; this comprehensive review therefore considers multiple fields of inquiry. This first installment discusses 1) Qdot physical properties, 2) established biological and in vivo properties, 3) magnetic resonance imaging applications, and (4) existing cardiovascular and oncologic research. Finally, this review establishes the existing bounds of Qdot possibilities. The second concept article details future endovascular diagnostic and therapeutic methods derived from these seminal advances.