Microbubbles are used as ultrasonic contrast agents that enhance the ultrasound signals of the vascular bed. The recent development of site-targeted microbubbles opened up the possibility for molecular imaging as well as localised drug and gene delivery. Initially the microbubbles' physical properties and their response to the ultrasound beam were not fully understood. However, the introduction of fast acquisition microscopy has allowed the observation of the microbubble behaviour in the presence of ultrasound. In addition, acoustical techniques can determine the scatter of single microbubbles. Sonoporation experiments promise high-specificity drug and gene delivery, but the responsible physical mechanisms, particularly for in vivo applications, are not fully understood.. An improvement of microbubble technology may address variability related problems in both imaging and drug/gene delivery. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.