To date, lasers are widely accepted tools in analytical spectroscopy, involved in various stand-alone and hyphenated techniques. Furthermore, significant progress can be noted in this field. In this paper, first of all some laser characteristics are discussed. Subsequently, five selected topics are outlined to illustrate recent achievements and future developments:Laser-induced fluorescence for detection in capillary electrophoresis, including the use of ultraviolet, continuous-wave lasers in combination with wavelength-resolved emission detection; the use of diode laser-induced fluorescence in the red region of the electromagnetic spectrum and the use of Ti:sapphire lasers for multiphoton-excited fluorescence detection.Degenerate four-wave mixing for detection in liquid microseparation systems (based on the coherence of laser light).Fluorescence line-narrowing spectroscopy for identification purposes, a cryogenic high-resolution molecular fluorescence technique with a high potential in environmental analysis.Recent developments in Raman spectroscopy (including ultraviolet-Resonance Raman and hyphenation of liquid chromatography and Raman spectroscopy).Use of lasers for sample introduction in inorganic analysis based on controlled material ablation. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.