Photothermal (PT) responses of individual intact cells are studied with a thermal lens dual-laser scheme. A multiparameter model for analysis of PT responses as a function of cell size, structure, and optical properties is suggested and verified experimentally for living cells, red blood cells, lymphocytes, tumor cells (K 562), hepatocytes, and miocytes, by applying pulsed laser radiation at 532 nm for 10-ns duration. PT responses for noninvasive and damaging modes of laser-cell interaction are investigated. It is shown theoretically and experimentally that specific optical and structural features of cells influence the polarity, shape, front, and tail lengths of their PT responses. Common for different cells, features of PT responses are evaluated. It is found that in cells with a highly heterogeneous light-absorbing structure, the PT response of a whole cell differs from that of the local absorbing area. The model suggested allows us to interpret PT responses from single cells and to compare cells in terms of their diameter, degree of spatial heterogeneity of light absorbance, and laser-induced damage thresholds.