We review the optical guidance properties of hollow-core photonic crystal fibers. We follow a historical perspective to introduce the two major optical guidance mechanisms that were identified as operating in these fibers: photonic bandgap guidance and inhibited coupling guidance. We then review the modal properties of these fibers and assess the transmission loss mechanisms in photonic bandgap guiding hollow-core photonic crystal fiber. We dedicate a section to a review of the technical basics of hollow-core photonic crystal fiber fabrication and photonic microcell assembly. We review some of the early results on the use of hollow-core photonic crystal fiber for laser guiding micro-sized particles, as well as the generation of stimulated Raman scattering, electromagnetically induced transparency and laser frequency stabilization when the fiber core is filled with a gas-phase material. We conclude this review with a non-exhaustive list of prospects where hollow-core photonic crystal fiber could play a central role.