Epidemiological indicators describing population-level malaria transmission dynamics are widely used to guide policy recommendations. However, the determinants of malaria outcomes within individuals are still poorly understood. This conceptual gap partly reflects the fact that there are few indicators that robustly predict the trajectory of individual infections or clinical outcomes. The parasite multiplication rate (PMR) is a widely used indicator for the Plasmodium intraerythrocytic development cycle (IDC), for example, but its relationship to clinical outcomes is complex. Here, we review its calculation and use in P. falciparum malaria research, as well as the parasite and host factors that impact it. We also provide examples of metrics that can help to link within-host dynamics to malaria clinical outcomes when used alongside the PMR.