Hydraulic machinery with high performance is of great significance for energy saving. Its design is a very challenging job for designers, and the inverse design method is a competitive way to do the job. The three-dimensional inverse design method and its applications to hydraulic machinery are herein reviewed. The flow is calculated based on potential flow theory, and the blade shape is calculated based on flow-tangency condition according to the calculated flow velocity. We also explain flow control theory by suppression of secondary flow and cavitation based on careful tailoring of the blade loading distribution and stacking condition in the inverse design of hydraulic machinery. Suggestions about the main challenge and future prospective of the inverse design method are given.