In the last 5 years, the multiparametric approach has been investigated as the method for the MRI of prostate cancer. In multiparametric MRI of the prostate, at least two functional MRI techniques, such as diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, are combined with conventional MRI, such as T2-weighted imaging. DW-MRI has the ability to qualitatively and quantitatively represent the diffusion of water molecules by the apparent diffusion coefficient, which indirectly reflects tissue cellularity. DW-MRI is characterized by a short acquisition time without the administration of contrast medium. Thus, DW-MRI has the potential to become established as a noninvasive diagnostic method for tumor detection and localization, tumor aggressiveness, local staging and local recurrence after various therapies. Accordingly, radiologists should recognize the principles of DW-MRI, the methods of image acquisition and the pitfalls of image interpretation. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.