Abstract Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging plays an important role in the evaluation of bacterial and tuberculous spondylodiscitis and associated complications. Owing to its high sensitivity and specificity, it is a powerful diagnostic tool in the early diagnosis of ongoing infections, and thus provides help in prompt initiation of appropriate, therapy which may be medical or surgical, by defining the extent of involvement and detection of complications such as epidural and paraspinal abscesses. More specifically, MR imaging helps in differentiating bacterial from tuberculous infections and enables follow up of progression or resolution after appropriate treatment. However, other non-infectious pathology can demonstrate similar MR imaging appearances and one should be aware of these potential mimickers when interpreting MR images. Radiologists and other clinicians need to be aware of these potential mimics, which include such pathologies as Modic type I degenerative changes, trauma, metastatic disease and amyloidosis. In this pictorial review, we will describe and illustrate imaging findings of bacterial and tuberculous spondylodiscitis, their complications and non-infectious pathologies that mimic these spinal infections.