Carpal instability is a complex and heterogeneous clinical condition. Management requires accurate identification of structural injury with an understanding of the resultant movement (kinematic) and load transfer (kinetic) failure. Static imaging techniques, such as plain film radiography, stress views, ultrasound, magnetic resonance, MR arthrography and computerized tomography arthrography, may accurately depict major wrist ligamentous injury. Dynamic ultrasound and videofluoroscopy may demonstrate dynamic instability and kinematic dysfunction. There is a growing evidence base for the diagnostic accuracy of these techniques in detecting intrinsic ligament tears, but there are limitations. Evidence of their efficacy and relevance in detection of non-dissociative carpal instability and extrinsic ligament tears is weak. Further research into the accuracy of existing imaging modalities is still required. Novel techniques, including four-dimensional computerized tomography and magnetic resonance, can evaluate both cross-sectional and functional carpal anatomy. This is a narrative review of level-III studies evaluating the role of imaging in carpal instability.