Otoliths are data loggers that record both environmental and biological information in their microstructure and microchemistry, which is critically essential for interpreting the life history of fish and constructing environmental history. This information can be used to reveal the age, growth, migration and habitats of fish at either individual or population level. Many techniques have been recently developed for age validation, some of which (e.g.boom radiocarbon chronometer, radio chemical dating and OTC) have been proven to be robust and reliable in validating the age of the long-lived fishes, the species rarely studied in the past. Techniques commonly used for microchemistry analysis (e.g. elemental fingerprint) include ICP-MS, EPMA, AAS, PIXE and stable oxygen and carbon isotopes etc.. SEM is mostly applied to microstructure (daily ring and increment) examination, which had ever renovated the research of early life history of fish in the 1980s. According to Campana (2005), due to the technological development in extracting information from the otoliths, the past three decades has witnessed the drastic increasing of otolith research with an annual rate of about 200 papers published in the last few years. This includes otolith microstructure, annual age and growth, age determination and validation, population dynamics, trace elements and their applications, chemical marking and environmental reconstruction and many others. The three international symposia on otolith research held in the past decade had also established recent development and advances in this field and made great contribution to the innovation and implementation of otolith analysis techniques. However, in China, otolith research was merely conducted on age determination and growth of some adult fish species in 1980s and otolith microstructure of a few larval species in 1990s, leaving age validation, microchemistry analysis and other hot topics in this field totally blank. Referring to the recently published otolith works, especially those of the internationally well-known scientists such as S E Campana, Elsdon, T S, Fowler, A J, Kalish, J M, Secor, D H, Tsukamoto, K (see reference list for others), this paper is to present a general description of the development of otolith analysis techniques and their applications so that Chinese researchers could have a relatively easy way to obtain referencing information for their otolith studies in the future.