The meibum is a lipid-rich secretion that is the primary component of the external layer of the tear film. The meibomian glands produce the meibum, and meibomian gland dysfunction can lead to degradation of the tear film. Such dysfunction can result in ocular irritation, inflammation, and clinical disease. Understanding this relationship is critical to preventing ocular disease; therefore, a search of peer-reviewed literature focusing on the collection, quantification, and analysis of normal and abnormal meibum and tear lipids was conducted. Numerous collection and quantification techniques are described, including their advantages and disadvantages. Studies indicate that the meibum and tear lipids consist of a large array of polar and nonpolar lipids; individual lipids or their classes can be correlated to pathology. Significant amounts of lipids are deposited on contact lenses, depending on the nature of their polymer chemistry. These findings taken together indicate that normal meibum and tear lipids are essential for normal ocular health. Additional studies are required to provide a better understanding of the meibum and tear film biomolecules so that more effective treatments for blepharitis, dry eye disease, and tear film-related contact lens complications can be devised. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.