This paper examines the current state of the art in lighting simulation related to building science research. Discussion on historical developments and main modelling approaches is followed by describing lighting simulation within the design process, where it is applied beyond presentation renderings. Works are grouped using the main aspects of a program (input, modelling and output). Lighting simulation currently focuses on representing accurately a large number of common situations encountered by building designers and researchers. Existing models apply roughly the same theoretical algorithms and calculation aids, limiting representation of certain physical phenomena. Although some models can be used for element design, they are not practical enough to develop or prototype new, untested elements. Elaborate building components require separate analysis through complex simulation aids. Few tools support the early architectural design process. Simplification applies when integrating lighting simulation to whole-building simulation. Input quality affects accuracy, while output needs careful expert interpretation.