Fluorescence-guided diagnosis of tumor tissue is in many cases insufficient, because false positive results interfere with the outcome. Improvement through observation of cell metabolism might offer the solution, but needs a detailed understanding of the origin of autofluorescence. With respect to this, spectrally resolved multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging was investigated to analyze cell metabolism in metabolic phenotypes of malignant and nonmalignant oral mucosa cells. The time-resolved fluorescence characteristics of NADH were measured in cells of different origins. The fluorescence lifetime of bound and free NADH was calculated from biexponential fitting of the fluorescence intensity decay within different spectral regions. The mean lifetime was increased from nonmalignant oral mucosa cells to different squamous carcinoma cells, where the most aggressive cells showed the longest lifetime. In correlation with reports in the literature, the total amount of NADH seemed to be less for the carcinoma cells and the ratio of free/bound NADH was decreased from nonmalignant to squamous carcinoma cells. Moreover for squamous carcinoma cells a high concentration of bound NADH was found in cytoplasmic organelles (mainly mitochondria). This all together indicates that oxidative phosphorylation and a high redox potential play an important role in the energy metabolism of these cells.