Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a known indicator of arterial stiffness and cardiovascular risk. We critically evaluated the evidence supporting the four main non-invasive devices available to assess it: Complior, SphygmoCor, Arteriograph and Vicorder. PubMed and Medline databases (1960-2011) were searched to identify studies reporting carotid-femoral PWV in humans using one or more of the four devices. Of the 183 articles retrieved, 43 met inclusion criteria. The Arteriograph device demonstrated least variance but had poor agreement with the other devices. Undisputable reference values for PWV need to be established and internationally agreed, and a standardized method for superficial distance measurement generated to reduce variability. Further studies comparing all four devices with invasive assessment are necessary.