One of the key technologies required for manufacturing vertical-cavity laser arrays at a production scale is rapid and nondestructive evaluation of the laser material. A brief review of methods for materials characterization of vertical-cavity semiconductor lasers is presented. Techniques based on reflectance spectroscopy, photoluminescence, photoreflectance, double crystal x-ray diffractometry, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy are used to determine alloy composition, cavity spacer thickness, and Bragg mirror layer thicknesses. Critical aspects of data gathering, analysis, interpretation, and simulation are highlighted. The optical simulation software used for computer aided device design and simulation of reflectance spectra is also briefly discussed.