In this paper, we review optical techniques used for micro-manipulation of small particles and cells in microfluidic devices. These techniques are based on the object's interaction with focused laser light (consequential forces of scattering and gradient). Inorganic objects including polystyrene spheres and organic objects including biological cells were manipulated and switched in and between fluidic channels using these forces that can typically be generated by vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) arrays, with only a few mW optical powers. T-, Y-, and multi-layered X fluidic channel devices were fabricated by polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer molding of channel structures over photolithographically defined patterns using a thick negative photoresist. We have also shown that this optical manipulation technique can be extended to smaller multiple objects by using an optically trapped particle as a handle, or an “optical handle”. Ultimately, optical manipulation of small particles and biological cells could have applications in biomedical devices for drug discovery, cytometry and cell biology research.