In this review, combined post-mortem brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histology studies are highlighted, illustrating the relevance of translational approaches to define novel MRI signatures of neuropathological lesions in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders. Initial studies combining post-mortem MRI and histology have validated various MRI sequences, assessing their sensitivity and specificity as diagnostic biomarkers in neurologic disease. More recent studies have focused on defining new radiological (bio)markers and implementing them in the clinical (research) setting. By combining neurological and neuroanatomical expertise with radiological development and pathological validation, a cycle emerges that allows for the discovery of novel MRI biomarkers to be implemented in vivo. Examples of this cycle are presented for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. Some applications have been shown to be successful, while others require further validation. In conclusion, there is much to explore with post-mortem MRI and histology studies, which can eventually be of high relevance for clinical practice.