Multiphoton excitation fluorescence microscopy has proven to be a powerful method for non-invasive, in vivo, thick tissue imaging with molecular specificity. However, many important endogenous biomolecules do not fluoresce (NAD) or fluoresce with low efficiency (Melanin). In this report femtosecond pulse shaping methods are used to measure two-photon absorption (TPA) directly with very high sensitivity. Combining with the laser scanning microscope, this Two-photon Absorption Microscopy (TPAM) retains the penetration and localization advantages of two-photon fluorescence microscopy and permits direct observation of important endogenous molecular markers (melanin or hemoglobin) which are invisible in multiphoton fluorescence microscopy. We have demonstrated here for the first time that TPAM can successfully and more efficiently image melanoma cells and tissues and provide a good melanin contrast in optical sectioning of the melanoma lesions which are comparable to pathological histology. Combining with the two-photon fluorescence images acquired simultaneously, the distribution patterns of the melanocytes and their intratissue behavior could be studied without cutting the lesions from patients. TPAM will undoubtedly find the applications in the clinical diagnosis and biomedical research.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.