Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), which was originally designed for clinical monitoring of tissue oxygenation, has been developing into a useful tool for neuroimaging studies (functional near-infrared spectroscopy). This technique, which is completely noninvasive, does not require strict motion restriction and can be used in a daily life environment. It is expected that NIRS will provide a new direction for cognitive neuroscience research, more so than other neuroimaging techniques, although several problems with NIRS remain to be explored. This review demonstrates the strengths and the advantages of NIRS, clarifies the problems, and identifies the limitations of NIRS measurements. Finally, its future prospects are described.