Future clinical trials investigating the natural history and treatment of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) will require multimodal staging systems for hip osteoarthritis because the optimal system will differ based on the size of the study population, the specific objective in question, and the time frame in which the investigator expects to see the specified end point. Plain radiographs are readily available, low in cost, and of unquestioned validity, but they are relatively insensitive to early joint damage. MRI allows assessment of both bony and soft-tissue pathology within the joint, and it is much more sensitive for early joint damage because cartilage is visualized directly. Biochemical imaging techniques such as delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage, T2 mapping, and T1rho offer the potential to identify biochemical damage to cartilage before the onset of irreversible tissue loss. In the future, biomarkers may allow earlier detection of osteoarthritis before the development of radiographic evidence of disease.