Advances in the measurement, calculation, and application of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) for the determination of absolute configuration are described. The purpose of the review is to provide an up-to-date perspective on the capability of VCD to solve problems of absolute stereochemistry for chiral molecules primarily in the solution state. The scope of the article covers the experimental methods needed for the accurate measurement of VCD spectra and the theoretical steps required to systematically deduce absolute configuration. Determination of absolute configuration of a molecule by VCD requires knowledge of its conformation or conformational distribution, and hence VCD analysis necessarily provides solution-state conformation information, in many cases available by no other method, as an additional benefit. Comparisons of the advantages and limitations of VCD relative to other available chiroptical methods of analysis are also presented. Chirality 15:743–758, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.