Imaging detectors are key elements for optical instruments and sensors on board space missions dedicated to Earth observation (high resolution imaging, atmosphere spectroscopy...), Solar System exploration (micro cameras, guidance for autonomous vehicle...) and Universe observation (space telescope focal planes, guiding sensors...). This market has been dominated by CCD technology for long. Since the mid-90s, CMOS Image Sensors (CIS) have been competing with CCDs for consumer domains (webcams, cell phones, digital cameras...). Featuring significant advantages over CCD sensors for space applications (lower power consumption, smaller system size, better radiations behaviour...), CMOS technology is also expanding in this field, justifying specific R&D and development programs funded by national and European space agencies (mainly CNES, DGA and ESA). All along the 90s and thanks to their increasingly improving performances, CIS have started to be successfully used for more and more demanding space applications, from vision and control functions requiring low-level performances to guidance applications requiring medium-level performances. Recent technology improvements have made possible the manufacturing of research-grade CIS that are able to compete with CCDs in the high-performances arena. After an introduction outlining the growing interest of optical instruments designers for CMOS image sensors, this paper will present the existing and foreseen ways to reach high-level electro-optics performances for CIS. The developments and performances of CIS prototypes built using an imaging CMOS process will be presented in the corresponding section.