Extracellular vesicles (EVs) from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are emerging as valuable therapeutic agents for tissue regeneration and immunomodulation, but their clinical applications have so far been limited by the technical restraints of current isolation and characterisation procedures. This study shows for the first time the successful application of Raman spectroscopy as label-free, sensitive and reproducible means of carrying out the routine bulk characterisation of MSC-derived vesicles before their use in vitro or in vivo, thus promoting the translation of EV research to clinical practice. The Raman spectra of the EVs of bone marrow and adipose tissue-derived MSCs were compared with human dermal fibroblast EVs in order to demonstrate the ability of the method to distinguish the vesicles of the three cytotypes automatically with an accuracy of 93.7%. Our data attribute a Raman fingerprint to EVs from undifferentiated and differentiated cells of diverse tissue origin, and provide insights into the biochemical characteristics of EVs from different sources and into the differential contribution of sphingomyelin, gangliosides and phosphatidilcholine to the Raman spectra themselves. © 2017 The Author(s).