An endoscope-compatible, optical fiber system has been developed which can be used to obtain laser-induced fluorescence spectra of mucosal abnormalities during endoscopy in real time. The results of our previous in vitro studies have suggested that laser-induced fluorescence tissue spectra are sufficiently unique that they can be used to accurately diagnose mucosal abnormalities in some systems. To test this hypothesis in vivo, laser-induced fluorescence spectra were obtained during colonoscopy from 31 colonic adenomas, 4 hyperplastic polyps, and 32 examples of normal mucosa in 20 patients. The resulting spectra could be used to correctly differentiate adenomas from normal colonic mucosa and hyperplastic polyps in 97% of the specimens studied with the resulting sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of 100%, 97%, and 94%, respectively. These results, although preliminary in nature, suggest that laser-induced fluorescence spectra can be used in the recognition and differential diagnosis of mucosal abnormalities at endoscopy.