Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) as an analytical tool for bio-molecular and bio-medical research targets accurate compound localization and identification. In terms of dedicated instrumentation, this translates into the demand for more detail in the image dimension (spatial resolution) and in the spectral dimension (mass resolution and accuracy), preferably combined in one instrument. At the same time, large area biological tissue samples require fast acquisition schemes, instrument automation and a robust data infrastructure. This review discusses the analytical capabilities of an "ideal" MSI instrument for bio-molecular and biomedical molecular imaging. The analytical attributes of such an ideal system are contrasted with technological and methodological challenges in MSI. In particular, innovative instrumentation for high spatial resolution imaging in combination with high sample throughput is discussed. Detector technology that targets various shortcomings of conventional imaging detector systems is highlighted. The benefits of accurate mass analysis, high mass resolving power, additional separation strategies and multimodal three-dimensional data reconstruction algorithms are discussed to provide the reader with an insight in the current technological advances and the potential of MSI for bio-medical research.