When designing a strategy for collecting occupational exposure data, both economic and statistical performance criteria should be considered. However, very few studies have addressed the trade-off between the cost of obtaining data and the precision/accuracy of the exposure estimate as a research issue. To highlight the need of providing cost-efficient designs for assessing exposure variables in occupational research, the present review explains and critically evaluates the concepts and analytical tools used in available cost efficiency studies. Nine studies were identified through a systematic search using two algorithms in the databases PubMed and ScienceDirect. Two main approaches could be identified in these studies: 'comparisons' of the cost efficiency associated with different measurement designs and 'optimizations' of resource allocation on the basis of functions describing cost and statistical efficiency. In either case, the reviewed studies use simplified analytical tools and insufficient economic analyses. More research is needed to understand whether these drawbacks jeopardize the guidance on cost-efficient exposure assessment provided by the studies, as well as to support theoretical results by empirical data from occupational life.