An ideal diagnostic system for the human airways should be able to detect and define early development of premalignant pathological lesions, to facilitate optimal curative treatment and prevent irreversible and/or invasive lung disease. There is great need for exploration of safe, repeatable imaging techniques which can run at real-time and with high spatial resolution. In this study, optical coherence tomography (OCT) was utilized to acquire cross-sectional images of upper and lower airways using fresh pig lung resections as a model system. Obtained OCT images were compared with parallel tissue characterization by conventional histological analysis. Our objective was to determine whether OCT differentiates the composite structural layers and inherent anatomical variations along different airway locations. The data show that OCT can clearly display the multilayered structure of the airways. The subtle architectural differences in three separate anatomical locations including trachea, main bronchus and tertiary bronchus were clearly delineated. Images of the appropriate anatomical profiles, with depth of up to 2 mm and 10 microm spatial resolution were obtained by our current OCT system, which was sufficient for recognition of the epithelium, subepithelial tissues and cartilage. In addition, the relative thickness of individual structural components was accurately reflected and comparable to histological sections. These data support OCT as a highly feasible, optical biopsy tool, which merits further exploration for early diagnosis of human airway epithelial pathology.