Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune connective tissue disease of unknown etiology with development of persistent and erosive arthritis ultimately resulting in disability. The prevalence of RA is about 0.5-1% in adults worldwide. Radiographic changes in the joints at early stages of the disease are often absent. Accordingly, there is a need for instrumental methods of diagnosis with greater sensitivity. These include magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound of joints. The paper reviews the instrumental methods of diagnosis of joint damage in early RA according to the existing literature of PubMed database. Selection criteria were original articles in the English language reporting «X-ray», «MRI» and «ultrasound» in patients with early RA.