In order to investigate the effectiveness of optical spectroscopy for in vivo diagnosis of cervical pre-cancerous conditions, a series of published studies are surveyed. The six optical technologies investigated include fluorescence spectroscopy, reflectance spectroscopy, and their combination using point probe or multispectral imaging approaches. Searching in the well-known databases, the most recent published works were sought out. Various aspects of the studies were evaluated including the details of the technology used, the pathologic threshold for tissue classification and the gold standard, the study population and prevalence of disease in this population, the method of measurement, the number of clinicians involved in the study, the classification and validation algorithms, and the performance in terms of sensitivity, specificity and, when available, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. Forty-four studies conducted from 1994 to 2012 were evaluated. The data are gathered in two comprehensive tables, and five illustrations are provided to simplify a comparison between studies from different points of view. There is a broad band of studies from small pilot studies through phase III clinical trials. Among the reviewed articles, only three factors were found to influence the performance of the optical spectroscopy studies. Multispectral approaches show higher specificity than the point probe approaches (p = 0.001). The use of acetic acid before measurement and prevalence of disease among the studied population, also, have an impact on the sensitivity and specificity of the studies (p < 0.05), respectively.