Recent technological advancements in the photonics industry have led to a resurgence of interest in optical glucose sensing and to realistic progress toward the development of an optical glucose sensor. Such a sensor has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for the estimated 16 million diabetics in this country by making routine glucose measurements more convenient. Currently over 100 small companies and universities are working to develop noninvasive or minimally invasive glucose sensing technologies, and optical methods play a large role in these efforts. This article reviews many of the recent advances in optical glucose sensing including optical absorption spectroscopy, polarimetry, Raman spectroscopy, and fluorescent glucose sensing. In addition a review of calibration and data processing methods useful for optical techniques is presented. © 2000 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.