Determining the health of muscle cells by in vivo imaging could impact the diagnosis and monitoring of a large number of congenital and acquired muscular or cardiac disorders. However, currently used technologies are hampered by insufficient resolution, lack of specificity, or invasiveness. We have combined intrinsic optical second-harmonic generation from sarcomeric myosin with a novel mathematical treatment of striation pattern analysis, to obtain measures of muscle contractile integrity that correlate strongly with the neuromuscular health of mice suffering from genetic, acquired, and age-related decline in skeletal muscle function. Analysis of biopsies from a pilot group of human volunteers suggests a similar power in quantifying sarcopenic changes in muscle integrity. These results provide the first strong evidence that quantitative image analysis of sarcomere pattern can be correlated with physiological function, and they invite the application of SHG imaging in clinical practice, either in biopsy samples or via microendoscopy.