Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with a wide size range (2.6-14.1 nm) were synthesized and coated with the amphiphilic poly(amidoamine) PAMAM-C12 dendrimer. The resulting well dispersed and stable water suspensions were fully characterized in order to explore their possible use in biomedical applications. The structural and magnetic properties of the nanoparticles were preserved during the coating and were related to their relaxometric behaviour. The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Dispersion (NMRD) profiles were found to be in accordance with the Roch model. The biocompatibility was assessed by means of cell viability tests and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analysis. The nanoparticles' capability of being detected via Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was investigated by means of clinical MRI scanners both in water and agar gel phantoms, and in a mouse model.