Study of metabolic changes during epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells is important for basic understanding and therapeutic management of cancer progression. We here used metabolic labeling and stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy, a strategy of bioorthogonal chemical imaging, to directly visualize changes in anabolic metabolism during cancer EMT at a single-cell level. MCF-7 breast cancer cell is employed as a model system. Four types of metabolites (amino acids, glucose, fatty acids, and choline) are labeled with either deuterium or alkyne (
) tag. Their intracellular incorporations into MCF-7 cells before or after EMT are visualized by SRS imaging targeted at the signature vibration frequency of C-D or
bonds. Overall, after EMT, anabolism of amino acids, glucose, and choline is less active, reflecting slower protein and membrane synthesis in mesenchymal cells. Interestingly, we also observed less incorporation of glucose and palmitate acids into membrane lipids, but more of them into lipid droplets in mesenchymal cells. This result indicates that, although mesenchymal cells synthesize fewer membrane lipids, they are actively storing energy into lipid droplets, either through de novo lipogenesis from glucose or direct scavenging of exogenous free fatty acids. Hence, metabolic labeling coupled with SRS can be a straightforward method in imaging cancer metabolism.