Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) was used to characterize completely the polarization state of light backscattered from turbid media. Using a low-coherence light source, one can determine the Stokes parameters of backscattered light as a function of optical path in turbid media. To demonstrate the application of this technique we determined the birefringence and the optical axis in fibrous tissue (rodent muscle) and in vivo rodent skin. PS-OCT has potentially useful applications in biomedical optics by imaging simultaneously the structural properties of turbid biological materials and their effects on the polarization state of backscattered light. This method may also find applications in material science for investigation of polarization properties (e.g., birefringence) in opaque media such as ceramics and crystals. (C) 1999 Optical Society of America.