Functional MRI (fMRI) has grown to be the neuroimaging technique of choice for investigating brain function. This topical review provides an outline of fMRI methods and applications, with a particular emphasis on the recent advances provided by ultra-high field (UHF) scanners to allow functional mapping with greater sensitivity and improved spatial specificity. A short outline of the origin of the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast is provided, followed by a review of BOLD fMRI methods based on gradient-echo (GE) and spin-echo (SE) contrast. Phase based fMRI measures, as well as perfusion contrast obtained with the technique of arterial spin labelling (ASL), are also discussed. An overview of 7 T based functional neuroimaging is provided, outlining the potential advances to be made and technical challenges to be addressed.