The concept of imaging spectrometry is finding broad application in scientific instrumentation for Earth-based, airborne, and space applications. An imaging spectrometer is characterized by the combination of imaging with complete sampling in the spectral domain. In so doing, material identification can be accomplished and displayed in conjunction with the conventional recognizable image. An imaging spectrometer incorporates a wide variety of technologies, including focal plane arrays, imaging and spectrometer optics, and spectral dispersing devices. The design of a successful system involves a complex set of trade-offs incorporating the properties and limitations of the various technologies. For applications in the infrared, additional technologies such as focal plane cooling are required, and the other technologies present more limitations and constraints. This paper describes the system design process for a typical application, and discusses the system performance parameters and trade-offs, including choice of system architecture, signal to noise ratio, system resolution, spectral performance, calibration, and the effect of artifacts such as detector non-uniformity.