In surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), the scattered intensity is drastically increased due to a resonant interaction with surface plasmons of coin metals. SERS is a nondestructive spectroscopic method applied also to biomedical samples. It inherits the advantages of normal Raman spectroscopy and at the same time overcomes the inherent low sensitivity problem. These properties endow SERS with exciting opportunities to be a successful analytical tool for cell analysis. SERS can be used to detect only molecules located on or close to the metallic nanostructures which can support surface plasmon resonances for the enhancement of the Raman signals. Therefore, these metallic nanostructures play a key role in the application of SERS in cell analysis. By incorporating the SERS substrates into the biosamples, molecular structural probing and cellular imaging become possible. In the past decade, analysts worldwide have developed many schemes to study the chemical changes and component distribution in cells by using SERS. In this paper, the application of SERS in cell analysis is reviewed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.