Scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO) is a powerful imaging tool with specialized applications limited to research and ophthalmology clinics due in part to instrument size, cost, and complexity. Conversely, low-cost retinal imaging devices have limited capabilities in screening, detection, and diagnosis of diseases. To fill the niche between these two, a hand-held, nonmydriatic line-scanning laser ophthalmoscope (LSLO) is designed, constructed, and tested on normal human subjects. The LSLO has only one moving part and uses a novel optical approach to produce wide-field confocal fundus images. Imaging modes include multiwavelength illumination and live stereoscopic imaging with a split aperture. Image processing and display functions are controlled with two stacked prototype compact printed circuit boards. With near shot-noise limited performance, the digital LSLO camera requires low illumination power at near-infrared wavelengths. The line-scanning principle of operation is examined in comparison to SLO and other imaging modes. The line-scanning approach produces high-contrast confocal images with nearly the same performance as a flying-spot SLO. The LSLO may significantly enhance SLO utility for routine use by ophthalmologists, optometrists, general practitioners, and also emergency medical personnel and technicians in the field for retinal disease detection and other diverse applications.