Spectroscopic imaging of biomaterials and biological systems has received increased interest within the last decade because of its potential to aid in the detection of disease using biomaterials/biopsy samples and to probe the states of live cells in a label-free manner. The factors behind this increased attention include the availability of improved infrared microscopes and systems that do not require the use of a synchrotron as a light source, as well as the decreasing costs of these systems. This article highlights the current technical challenges and future directions of mid-infrared spectroscopic imaging within this field. Specifically, these are improvements in spatial resolution and spectral quality through the use of novel added lenses and computational algorithms, as well as quantum cascade laser imaging systems, which offer advantages over traditional Fourier transform infrared systems with respect to the speed of acquisition and field of view. Overcoming these challenges will push forward spectroscopic imaging as a viable tool for disease diagnostics and medical research. Graphical abstract Absorbance images of a biopsy obtained using an FTIR imaging microscope with and without an added lens, and also using a QCL microscope with high-NA objective.