Lipid droplets (LDs) are lipid-rich organelles universally found in most cells. They serve as a key energy reservoir, actively participate in signal transduction and dynamically communicate with other organelles. LD dysfunction has been associated with a variety of diseases. The content level, composition and mobility of LDs are crucial for their physiological and pathological functions, and these different parameters of LDs are subject to regulation by genetic factors and environmental inputs. Coherent Raman scattering (CRS) microscopy utilizes optical nonlinear processes to probe the intrinsic chemical bond vibration, offering label-free, quantitative imaging of lipids in vivo with high chemical specificity and spatiotemporal resolution. In this Review, we provide an overview over the principle of CRS microscopy and its application in tracking different parameters of LDs in live cells and organisms. We also discuss the use of CRS microscopy in genetic screens to discover lipid regulatory mechanisms and in understanding disease-related lipid pathology.

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