Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Retinal ganglion cells and their axons represent the selective target of the disease. When visual function is still intact on standard automated perimetry and optic disc appearance is suspicious, an early diagnosis may be supported by the identification of a retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) defect in the peripapillary area. At present days, computer-based, real-time imaging of the peripapillary RNFL is available through instruments of easy use and with high levels of accuracy and reproducibility. Scanning laser polarimetry is performed by a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope with an integrated polarimeter (GDx-VCC). There is a considerable amount of scientific evidence about the role of this imaging technique for glaucoma diagnosis. The aim of this review is to describe the principles of operation, the examination procedure, the clinical role, the results of main diagnostic studies and the future development of the software for the scanning laser polarimetry.