The theory of task-based assessment of image quality is reviewed in the context of imaging with ionizing radiation, and objective figures of merit (FOMs) for image quality are summarized. The variation of the FOMs with the task, the observer and especially with the mean number of photons recorded in the image is discussed. Then various standard methods for specifying radiation dose are reviewed and related to the mean number of photons in the image and hence to image quality. Current knowledge of the relation between local radiation dose and the risk of various adverse effects is summarized, and some graphical depictions of the tradeoffs between image quality and risk are introduced. Then various dose-reduction strategies are discussed in terms of their effect on task-based measures of image quality.