Methyl glyoxylate is widely used in organic synthesis and chemical production. The application of traditional preparation methods is limited by high cost, low efficiency, and significant environmental pollution. During the coal to ethylene glycol process, methyl glycolate is produced as an intermediate product of the hydrogenation of dimethyl oxalate (DMO) to ethylene glycol. Methyl glycolate can be selectively obtained from DMO via hydrogenation, and therefore, has the potential to serve as raw material for methyl glyoxylate. However, only few studies have considered this process. Herein , the applications, traditional preparation methods, and state-of-the-art research progress of methyl glycolate oxidation are reviewed. Recent research on selective oxidation of related alcohols (such as ethanol) to aldehydes and ketones is also summarized.