IPMI is one of the longest running conferences in medical imaging. It was started in 1969 by a group of young scientists working in nuclear medicine. With a few iterations the conference expanded into other areas and became established as a meeting for in-depth discussion of new methodological developments in medical imaging. Papers are presented in single-track sessions, in which sufficient time is allocated to papers to permit speakers to give a detailed presentation of their work. The discussions that follow form a hallmark of IPMI. It is tradition that these should have no time-limit, yielding stimulating and lively interactions, and sometimes fierce debates about new developments; this also presents some interesting challenges for the organisers, because the program is made adaptive to longer-than-scheduled discussions, but this makes for a truly stimulating and rewarding meeting. For that reason, IPMI is often viewed as a true workshop in contrast to the constrained schedules of most conferences. To preserve its character, attendance to the conference is limited to a maximum of 130 participants.

One of the key goals of IPMI is to encourage participation of the most promising and talented young researchers in the field, allowing them to explore new ideas with some of the leading researchers in this area. Active involvement is stimulated by preparation before the sessions in small study groups, in which everyone participates. After reading the papers of their session, the study group members meet to discuss the papers before they are presented, and to formulate questions and comments to kick off the discussions. The prestigious Erbsmann award for first time IPMI presenters adds an extra stimulus for young researchers for active involvement in the meeting.

IPMI is typically situated in a relatively small (and sometimes remote) location; together with the collective housing in campus or university dorms, and the requirement of a bar with late opening hours close by, this has proven to be a recipe for continued scientific and non-scientific discussions in the evenings. The traditional soccer match pitting the U.S. vs "the rest of the world", refereed by the ever impartial IPMI nestor Andrew Todd Pokropek, adds to the rich tradition of IPMI. All these factors make IPMI a unique meeting for which most participants hold a true affection.