The increased efficiency and specific output with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines are well known, but so too are the higher levels of Particulate Matter emissions compared with Port Fuel Injection (PFI) engines. To minimise Particulate Matter emissions, then it is necessary to understand and control the mixture preparation process, and important insights into GDI engine mixture preparation and combustion can be obtained from optical access engines. Such data is also crucial for validating models that predict flows, sprays and air fuel ratio distributions. The purpose of this paper is to review a number of optical techniques; the interpretation of the results is engine specific so will not be covered here. Mie scattering can be used for semi-quantitative measurements of the fuel spray and this can be followed with Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF) for determining the air fuel ratio and temperature distributions. With PLIF, very careful in-situ calibration is needed, and for temperature this can be provided by Laser Induced Thermal Grating Spectroscopy (LITGS). LITGS temperature measurements can also be used to quantify the differences in evaporative cooling with different fuels, thereby explaining observed changes in the volumetric efficiency. Natural light photography can be used for tracking flame fronts, and with suitable calibration of the colour filter array in a high speed colour video camera, then soot pyrometry can be employed to estimate the temperature and soot loading. The rich information derived from optical techniques drives their proliferation in research.