Within the framework of systems biology, functional analyses at all 'omic levels have seen an intense level of activity during the first decade of the twenty-first century. These include genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics. It could be said that metabolomics offers some unique advantages over the other 'omics disciplines and one of the core approaches of metabolomics for disease diagnostics is metabolic fingerprinting. This review provides an overview of the main metabolic fingerprinting approaches used for disease diagnostics and includes: infrared and Raman spectroscopy, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, followed by an introduction to a wide range of novel mass spectrometry-based methods, which are currently under intense investigation and developmental activity in laboratories worldwide. It is hoped that this review will act as a springboard for researchers and clinicians across a wide range of disciplines in this exciting era of multidisciplinary and novel approaches to disease diagnostics.