Muscle inflammation is a relatively common pathological process in childhood. The diagnosis of the underlying cause relies on an appreciation of the pattern of clinical features, as well as the results of biochemical, histological and radiological investigations. Often the clinical and biochemical features are non-specific and insensitive. Consequently, the radiological abnormalities are very important in establishing a diagnosis and an understanding of the imaging features of muscle inflammatory disorders in childhood is needed. Some of the imaging protocols needed to investigate a variety of muscle and soft-tissue inflammatory conditions in childhood are reviewed in this article. Those features that are helpful in narrowing the differential diagnosis are indicated and a logical approach to the investigation of affected children is provided. The value of MR imaging is highlighted.