Two categories of necrosis-avid contrast agents (NACAs), namely porphyrin- and nonporphyrin-based complexes, have thus far been discovered as necrosis-targeting markers for noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) identification of acute myocardial infarction, assessment of tissue or organ viability, and therapeutic evaluation after interventional therapies. In addition to necrosis labeling, other less-specific functions, such as first-pass perfusion, blood pool contrast effect, hepatobiliary contrast enhancement (CE), adrenal and spleen CE, and renal functional imaging, also are demonstrated with NACAs. Despite various investigations with a collection of clues in favor of certain hypotheses, the mechanisms of such a unique targetability for NACAs still remain to be elucidated. However, a few things have become clear that porphyrin-like structures are not necessary for necrosis avidity and the albumin binding is not the supposed driving force but only a parallel nonspecific feature shared by both NACAs and non-NACA substances. Although the research and development of NACAs still remain in preclinical stage at a relatively small scale, their significance rests upon striking enhancement effects, which may warrant their eventual versatile clinical applications. The present review article is intended to summarize the cumulated facts about the evolving research on this topic, to demonstrate experimental observations for better understanding of the mechanisms, to trigger broader public interests and more intensive research activities, and to advocate, toward both academics and industries, further promotion of preclinical and clinical development of this unique and promising class of contrast agents.