Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight (TOF) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) enables localization of analytes of interest along with histology. More specifically, MALDI-IMS identifies the distributions of proteins, peptides, small molecules, lipids, and drugs and their metabolites in tissues, with high spatial resolution. This unique capacity to directly analyze tissue samples without the need for lengthy sample preparation reduces technical variability and renders MALDI-IMS ideal for the identification of potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and disease gradation. MALDI-IMS has evolved rapidly over the last decade and has been successfully used in both medical and basic research by scientists worldwide. In this review, we explore the clinical applications of MALDI-IMS, focusing on the major cancer types and neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, we re-emphasize the diagnostic potential of IMS and the challenges that must be confronted when conducting MALDI-IMS in clinical settings. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.