In vitro testing has been conducted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the biomechanics of the cervical spine. This has allowed a characterization of the stability of the spine as influenced by the intrinsic properties of its tissue constituents and the severity of degeneration or injury. This also enables the preclinical estimation of spinal implant functionality and the success of operative procedures. The purpose of this review paper was to compile methodologies and results from various studies addressing spinal kinematics in pre- and postoperative conditions so that they could be compared. The reviewed literature was evaluated to provide suggestions for a better approach for future studies, to reduce the uncertainties and facilitate comparisons among various results. The overview is presented in a way to inform various disciplines, such as experimental testing, design development, and clinical treatment. The biomechanical characteristics of the cervical spine, mainly the segmental range of motion (ROM), intradiscal pressure (IDP), and facet joint load (FJL), have been assessed by testing functional spinal units (FSUs). The relative effects of pathologies including disc degeneration, muscle dysfunction, and ligamentous transection have been studied by imposing on the specimen complex load scenarios imitating physiological conditions. The biomechanical response is strongly influenced by specimen type, test condition, and the different types of implants utilized in the different experimental groups.