This paper is a review of the applications of laser scanning in inspection. The reasons for the choice of a laser in flying spot scanning and the optical properties of a laser beam which are of value in a scanning instrument will be given. The many methods of scanning laser beams in both one and two dimensions will be described. The use of one dimensional laser scanners for automatic surface inspection for transmitting and reflective products will be covered in detail, with particular emphasis on light collection techniques. On-line inspection applications which will be mentioned include: photographic film web, metal strip products, paper web, glass sheet, car body paint surfaces and internal cylinder bores. Two dimensional laser scanning is employed in applications where increased resolution, increased depth of focus, and better contrast are required compared with conventional vidicon TV or solid state array cameras. Such examples as special microscope laser scanning systems and a TV compatible system for use in restricted areas of a nuclear reactor will be described. The technical and economic benefits and limitations of laser scanning video systems will be compared with conventional TV and CCD array devices.