INTRODUCTION Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has a large economic burden with important complications that include esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and adenocarcinoma. Despite endoscopy, validated patient questionnaires, and traditional ambulatory pH monitoring, the diagnosis of GERD continues to be challenging. Areas covered: This review will explore the difficulties in diagnosing GERD with a focus on new developments, ranging from basic fundamental changes (histology and immunohistochemistry) to direct patient care (narrow-band imaging, impedance, and response to anti-reflux surgery). We searched PubMed using the noted keywords. We included data from full-text articles published in English. Further relevant articles were identified from the reference lists of review articles. Expert commentary: Important advances in novel parameters in intraluminal impedance monitoring such as baseline impedance monitoring has created some insight into alternative diagnostic strategies in GERD. Recent advances in endoscopic assessment of esophageal epithelial integrity via mucosal impedance measurement is questioning the paradigm of prolonged ambulatory testing for GERD. The future of reflux diagnosis may very well be without the need for currently employed technologies and could be as simple as assessing changes in epithelia integrity as a surrogate marker for GERD. However, future studies must validate such an approach.