This article summarizes the methods employed, and the progress achieved over the past two decades in applying vibrational (Raman and IR) micro-spectroscopy to problems of medical diagnostics and cellular biology. During this time, several research groups have verified the enormous information contained in vibrational spectra; in fact, information on protein, lipid and metabolic composition of cells and tissues can be deduced by decoding the observed vibrational spectra. This decoding process is aided by the availability of computer workstations and advanced algorithms for data analysis. Furthermore, commercial instrumentation for the fast collection of both Raman and infrared micro-spectral data has enabled the collection of images of cells and tissues based solely on vibrational spectroscopic data. The progress in the field has been manifested by a steady increase in the number and quality of publications submitted by established and new research groups in vibrational spectroscopy in the biological and biomedical arenas.