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This editorial introduces the Special Issue which contains a selection of papers that present recent advances in a number of areas relating to indexing and retrieval. The Issue attempts to present a representative sample of ongoing research focusing mainly on feature extraction, similarity measures, content structuring and the incorporation of user interaction in the retrieval process. All of these can be considered as component technologies that are required for addressing the broader issue of the so-called 'Semantic Gap' currently facing the content-based information retrieval (CBIR) research community. These papers were presented in brief form at the 3rd International Conference on Image and Video Retrieval (CIVR 2004) in Dublin, Ireland.