Abstract Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a biodegradable, biocompatible, nontoxic, and non-immunogenic glycosaminoglycan used for various biomedical applications. The interaction of HA with the CD44 receptor, whose expression is elevated on the surface of many types of tumor cells, makes this polymer a promising candidate for intracellular delivery of imaging and anticancer agents exploiting a receptor-mediated active targeting strategy. Therefore, HA and its derivatives have been most investigated for the development of several carrier systems intended for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Nonetheless, different and important delivery applications of the polysaccharide have also been described, including gene and peptide/protein drugs delivery. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the existing recent literature on the use of HA and its derivatives for drug delivery and imaging. Notable attention is given to nanotheranostic systems obtained after conjugation of HA to nanocarriers as quantum dots, carbon nanotubes and graphene. Meanwhile, attention is also paid to some challenging aspects that need to be addressed in order to allow translation of preclinical models based on HA and its derivatives for drug delivery and imaging purposes to clinical testing and further their development.