In the past two decades, optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been established as an adjunct diagnostic technique for noninvasive, high-resolution, cross-sectional imaging in a variety of medical fields. The rapid development of ultrabroad bandwidth light sources has recently enabled a significant improvement in OCT imaging resolution, demonstrating the potential of OCT to accomplish its original goal of performing noninvasive optical biopsies, i.e., the in vivo visualization of microstructural morphology in situ, which had previously only been possible with histopathology. In addition, these novel light sources might also enable the use of spectroscopic OCT, an extension of ultrahigh-resolution OCT, for enhancing image contrast as well as detecting spatially resolved functional, biochemical tissue information. State-of-the-art-light sources that now permit ultrahigh-resolution OCT covering the whole wavelength region from 500 to 1600 nm are reviewed and fundamental limitations of OCT image resolution are discussed. Ex vivo ultrahigh-resolution OCT tomograms are compared with histological results; first clinical in vivo ultrahigh-resolution OCT and preliminary spectroscopic OCT results are presented and their impact for future clinical and research applications is discussed. © 2004 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.