The use of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has rapidly grown partly due to demands of process analytical applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, newest regulatory guidelines have advanced the increase of the use of NIR technologies. The non-destructive and non-invasive nature of measurements makes NIR a powerful tool in characterization of pharmaceutical solids. These benefits among others often make NIR advantageous over traditional analytical methods. However, in addition to NIR, a wide variety of other tools are naturally also available for analysis in pharmaceutical development and manufacturing, and those can often be more suitable for a given application. The versatility and rapidness of NIR will ensure its contribution to increased process understanding, better process control and improved quality of drug products. This review concentrates on the use of NIR spectroscopy from a process research perspective and highlights recent applications in the field.