Near-infrared Fourier transform Raman spectroscopy is an analytical, nondestructive technique that provides information about the molecular structure of the investigated sample. The molecular structure of proteins and lipids differ between neoplastic and normal tissues and therefore Raman spectroscopy has been considered promising for the diagnosis of cancer. We aimed to compare the molecular structure of normal skin, benign and malignant skin lesions by the near-infrared Fourier transform Raman spectroscopy. Biopsies were obtained from the following skin lesions: skin tag, dermatofibroma, seborrhoeic keratosis, actinic keratosis, keratoacanthoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, nevus intradermalis, nevus compositus, dysplastic nevus and lentigo maligna. Control skin was harvested from the vicinity of these lesions. In the Raman spectra, the secondary structure of the proteins was reflected by the amide vibrations of peptide bonds. The principal lipid vibrations were twisting and wagging (CH2) and CH stretching vibrations. Histologically distinguishable lesions showed specific combinations of band changes indicating alterations in the protein conformation and in the molecular structure of the lipids. Histogenetically related lesions (actinic keratosis and sqamous cell carcinoma) produced similar but not identical patterns of spectral changes. Because the examined skin lesions produced reproducible and unique spectra, we suggest that Raman spectroscopy will be useful for diagnosis of skin lesions.