Classical mechanical methods for testing whole bone have been critically assessed in a previous review where their limitations in terms of precision, accuracy and the amount of data yielded were described. This article describes the use of optical metrology methods and their novel adaptation to the study of whole bone response to mechanical load. Such methods overcome many of the limitations of mechanical testing: they do not require contact with the tested sample, are non-destructive, can be conducted on wet samples, and results comprise deformation maps of entire surfaces. The concepts upon which each method is based are reviewed, and examples of their use in biomechanical studies of bone are presented. Potential future applications that are expected to make significant contributions to the understanding of whole bone mechanics are outlined.