Since 1995, the global positioning system (GPS) has been exploited by the means of the radio occultation (RO) method to obtain the vertical profiles of refractivity, temperature, pressure, and water vapor in the neutral atmosphere and electron density in the ionosphere. Applying the RO method to the study of the Earth's atmosphere was demonstrated for the first time with the GPS/MET experiment. Since then, several satellites with GPS receivers, suitable for RO experiments, have been launched including Oersted, SUNSAT, CHAMP, SAC-C, and GRACE. Future RO investigations that are planned now include FORMOSAT3/COSMIC and Terra-SAR missions. New elements in the RO technology are required to meet the goals of improving the accuracy and broadening the potential of the RO method. In this paper, a methodological review of RO investigations is presented to emphasize new directions in applying the RO method: measuring the vertical gradients of the refractivity in the atmosphere and electron density in the lower ionosphere, determination of the temperature regime in the upper stratosphere, investigation of the internal wave activity in the atmosphere, and study of the ionospheric disturbances on a global scale. These new directions may be relevant for investigating the relationships between processes in the atmosphere and mesosphere, the study of thermal regimes in the intermediate heights of the upper stratosphere-lower mesosphere, and the analysis of the influence of the space weather phenomena on the lower ionosphere.