Time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) is based on the detection of single photons of a periodic light signal, measurement of the detection time of the photons, and the build-up of the photon distribution versus the time in the signal period. TCSPC achieves a near ideal counting efficiency and transit-time-spread-limited time resolution for a given detector. The drawback of traditional TCSPC is the low count rate, long acquisition time, and the fact that the technique is one-dimensional, i.e. limited to the recording of the pulse shape of light signals. We present an advanced TCSPC technique featuring multi-dimensional photon acquisition and a count rate close to the capability of currently available detectors. The technique is able to acquire photon distributions versus wavelength, spatial coordinates, and the time on the ps scale, and to record fast changes in the fluorescence lifetime and fluorescence intensity of a sample. Biomedical applications of advanced TCSPC techniques are time-domain optical tomography, recording of transient phenomena in biological systems, spectrally resolved fluorescence lifetime imaging, FRET experiments in living cells, and the investigation of dye-protein complexes by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. We demonstrate the potential of the technique for selected applications.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.