We present the first detailed study using multispectral multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging to differentiate basal cell carcinoma cells (BCCs) from normal keratinocytes. Images were acquired from 19 freshly excised BCCs and 27 samples of normal skin (in & ex vivo). Features from fluorescence lifetime images were used to discriminate BCCs with a sensitivity/specificity of 79%/93% respectively. A mosaic of BCC fluorescence lifetime images covering >1 mm(2) is also presented, demonstrating the potential for tumour margin delineation. Using 10,462 manually segmented cells from the image data, we quantify the cellular morphology and spectroscopic differences between BCCs and normal skin for the first time. Statistically significant increases were found in the fluorescence lifetimes of cells from BCCs in all spectral channels, ranging from 19.9% (425-515 nm spectral emission) to 39.8% (620-655 nm emission). A discriminant analysis based diagnostic algorithm allowed the fraction of cells classified as malignant to be calculated for each patient. This yielded a receiver operator characteristic area under the curve for the detection of BCC of 0.83. We have used both morphological and spectroscopic parameters to discriminate BCC from normal skin, and provide a comprehensive base for how this technique could be used for BCC assessment in clinical practice.