Precision imaging is needed to realize precision medicine in cancer detection and treatment. Molecular imaging offers the ability to target and identify tumors, associated abnormalities, and specific cell populations with overexpressed receptors. Nuclear imaging and radionuclide probes provide high sensitivity but subject the patient to a high radiation dose and provide limited spatiotemporal information, requiring combined computed tomography (CT) for anatomic imaging. Therefore, nanoparticle contrast agents have been designed to enable molecular imaging and improve detection in CT alone. Core-shell nanoparticles provide a powerful platform for designing tailored imaging probes. The composition of the core is chosen for enabling strong X-ray contrast, multi-agent imaging with photon-counting spectral CT, and multimodal imaging. A silica shell is used for protective, biocompatible encapsulation of the core composition, volume-loading fluorophores or radionuclides for multimodal imaging, and facile surface functionalization with antibodies or small molecules for targeted delivery. Multi-agent (k-edge) imaging and quantitative molecular imaging with spectral CT was demonstrated using current clinical agents (iodine and BaSO4) and a proposed spectral library of contrast agents (Gd2O3, HfO2, and Au). Bisphosphonate-functionalized Au nanoparticles were demonstrated to enhance sensitivity and specificity for the detection of breast microcalcifications by conventional radiography and CT in both normal and dense mammary tissue using murine models. Moreover, photon-counting spectral CT enabled quantitative material decomposition of the Au and calcium signals. Immunoconjugated Au@SiO2 nanoparticles enabled highly-specific targeting of CD133+ ovarian cancer stem cells for contrast-enhanced detection in model tumors.