Background: There has been a growing interest in three-dimensional (3D) surface imaging devices over the last few years. Methods: This comprehensive review discusses the various emerging technologies in this field of 3D imaging and applies the use of technology to oral and maxillofacial imaging. Results: The paper shows that there is increased awareness and application of technology to the field. Conclusion: 3D surface acquisition technology is improving at a rapid pace and has a place in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.