A growing number of dermatologists and pathologists are concerned that the rapidly rising incidence of melanoma reflects not a true 'epidemic' but an increasing tendency to overdiagnose pigmented lesions. Addressing this problem requires both a better understanding of early-stage melanoma and new diagnostic criteria based on more than just cellular morphology and architecture. Here we present a method for in-vivo optical microscopy that utilizes pump-probe spectroscopy to image the distribution of the two forms of melanin in skin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Images are acquired in a scanning microscope with a sensitive modulation transfer technique by analyzing back-scattered probe light with a lock-in amplifier. Early-stage melanoma is studied in a human skin xenografted mouse model. Individual melanocytes have been observed, in addition to pigmented keratinocytes. Combining the pump-probe images simultaneously with other noninvasive laser microscopy methods (confocal reflectance, multiphoton autofluorescence, and second harmonic generation) allows visualization of the skin architecture, framing the functional pump-probe image in the context of the surrounding tissue morphology. It is found that pump-probe images of melanin can be acquired with low peak intensities, enabling wide field-of-view pigmentation surveys. Finally, we investigate the diagnostic potential of the additional chemical information available from pump-probe microscopy.© (2012) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.