Previously, we reported that ultrashort, near infrared (NIR) laser pulses caused more DNA breakage in cultured retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells than did CW, NIR laser radiation delivering a similar radiant exposure. We hypothesized that this difference was due to multiphoton absorption in an intracellular chromophore such as the RPE melanin. We investigated two-photon excitation of fluorescence in a suspension of isolated bovine RPE melanosomes exposed to a 1-KHz train of approximately 50- fsec laser pulses at 810 nm from a Ti:Sapphire laser, and compared this to the fluorescence excited by CW exposures at 406 nm from a Krypton ion laser. Fluorescence was measured with a PC-based spectrometer. The CW sources excited fluorescence with a peak at 525 nm. The fluorescence intensity depended on the irradiance of the sample, as well as the melanosome concentration. Peak fluorescence was obtained with a suspension of ~2 x 107 melanin granules/ml. The 810-nm, ultrashort pulses also excited fluorescence, but with a broader, lower-amplitude peak. The weaker fluorescence signal excited by the 810-nm ultrashort pulse laser for a given melanosome concentration, compared to 406-nm CW excitation, is possibly due to the smaller two- photon absorption cross-section. These results indicate the involvement of multiphoton absorption in DNA damage.