Intradural spinal tumours, although relatively uncommon, can be diagnostically challenging, and often result in significant morbidity. They can be subdivided according to their cell of origin and whether they are within the cord (intramedullary) or intradural but extramedullary in location. The differential diagnosis for masses of the cauda equina region is often considered separately. Additionally, some inflammatory processes, cysts, benign tumour-like masses and vascular malformations may mimic intradural tumours. Although in many instances, a precise preoperative diagnosis is not possible as many of the imaging findings overlap, some features may strongly suggest one diagnosis over others. This article reviews the range of intradural spinal tumours in the adult and paediatric populations, with an emphasis on pertinent imaging characteristics. An approach is provided for distinguishing tumours from lesions that mimic tumours and for narrowing the differential diagnosis according to imaging findings.