The state of the art of optical systems capable of measuring the positions of retro-reflective markers placed on the skin is sufficiently advanced that they are probably no longer a significant source of error in clinical gait analysis. Determining the anthropometry of the subject and compensating for soft tissue movement in relation to the under-lying bones are now the principal problems. Techniques for using functional tests to determine joint centres and axes of rotation are starting to be used successfully. Probably the last great challenge for optical systems is in using computational techniques to compensate for soft tissue measurements. In the long term future it is possible that direct imaging of bones and joints in three dimensions (using MRI or fluoroscopy) may replace marker based systems.