A high-speed single-mode fiber-based polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS OCT) system was developed. With a polarization modulator, Stokes parameters of reflected flight for four input polarization states are measured as a function of depth. A phase modulator in the reference arm of a Michelson interferometer permits independent control of the axial scan rate and carrier frequency. In vivo PS OCT images of human skin are presented, showing subsurface structures that are not discernible in conventional OCT images. A phase retardation image in tissue is calculated based on the reflected Stokes parameters of the four input polarization states. (C) 2000 Optical Society of America.