Increasing evidence points to the beneficial effects of carotenoid antioxidants in the human body. Several studies, for example, support the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the prevention of age-related eye diseases. If present in high concentrations in the macular region of the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin provide pigmentation in this most light sensitive retinal spot, and as a result of light filtering and/or antioxidant action, delay the onset of macular degeneration with increasing age. Other carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, play an important role as well in the protection of skin from UV and short-wavelength visible radiation. Lutein and lycopene may also have protective function for cardiovascular health, and lycopene may play a role in the prevention of prostate cancer. Motivated by the growing importance of carotenoids in health and disease, and recognizing the lack of any accepted noninvasive technology for the detection of carotenoids in living human tissue, we explore resonance Raman spectroscopy as a novel approach for noninvasive, laser optical carotenoid detection. We review the main results achieved recently with the Raman detection approach. Initially we applied the method to the detection of macular carotenoid pigments, and more recently to the detection of carotenoids in human skin and mucosal tissues. Using skin carotenoid Raman instruments, we measure the carotenoid response from the stratum corneum layer of the palm of the hand for a population of 1375 subjects and develope a portable skin Raman scanner for field studies. These experiments reveal that carotenoids are a good indicator of antioxidant status. They show that people with high oxidative stress, like smokers, and subjects with high sunlight exposure, in general, have reduced skin carotenoid levels, independent of their dietary carotenoid consumption. We find the Raman technique to be precise, specific, sensitive, and well suitable for clinical as well as field studies. The noninvasive laser technique may become a useful method for the correlation between tissue carotenoid levels and risk for malignancies or other degenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress.