This paper reviews several novel uses of lasers in atomic spectroscopy. A tutorial discussion is given of the basic processes involving the interaction of laser radiation with atoms and the measurement approaches. Laser microprobes, especially laser induced breakdown spectroscopy and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-optical emission or mass spectrometry are reviewed thoroughly with respect to principles, instrumentation and applications. Laser excited atomic fluorescence and atomic absorption spectrometry with diode lasers are considered primarily with respect to recent publications. Laser-enhanced ionization, resonance ionization and resonance ionization imaging are also thoroughly reviewed with respect to recent publications. Diagnostical measurements of plasmas and atom reservoirs are discussed. The principles of six laser based atomic absorption methods are given and the methods are compared with respect to detection limits. Finally, future uses of lasers in atomic spectroscopy and a comparison of the characteristics of various atomic methods for trace elements are given.