Understanding the mode of operation of gas sensors is of great scientific and economic interest. A knowledge-based approach requires the development and application of spectroscopic tools to monitor the relevant surface and bulk processes under working conditions (operando approach). In this review we trace the development of vibrational Raman spectroscopy applied to metal-oxide gas sensors, starting from initial applications to very recent operando spectroscopic approaches. We highlight the potential of Raman spectroscopy for molecular-level characterization of metal-oxide gas sensors to reveal important mechanistic information, as well as its versatility regarding the design of in situ/operando cells and the combination with other techniques. We conclude with an outlook on potential future developments.