The potential of spaceborne lidar to monitor aerosol layering and mixing with high vertical resolution is reviewed. An overview is presented on aerosol lidar techniques of past, present, and future NASA and ESA lidar missions. The potential of a standard backscatter lidar (LITE, 1994), a backscatter/ polarization lidar (CALIPSO, since 2006), a polarization High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL, ATLID, EARTHCARE), and of a multiwavelength polarization HSRL are discussed regarding their ability to derive height profiles of optical and microphysical properties of aerosols and to resolve aerosol types and mixtures as a function of height. The important role of ground-truth activities is emphasized. Measurement examples taken with ground-based lidars illustrate that these systems provide a detailed characterization of complex aerosol scenarios in contrast to the snapshot-like observations with spaceborne lidars.