A novel cryogenic scanning laser microscope with a spatial resolution of less than 5 µm has been designed for on-chip in situ investigations of the working properties of normal and superconducting circuits and devices. The instrument relies on the detection of the electrical response of the circuit to a very localized heating induced by irradiation with 675 nm wavelength light from a semiconductor laser. The hot spot is moved by a specially designed piezoelectric scanner sweeping the tip of a single-mode optical fiber a few µm above the circuit. Depending on the scanner design the scanning area can be as large as 50×500 µm2 at 4.2 K. The microscope can be operated in the temperature range 2–300 K using a standard temperature controller. The central microscope body is mounted inside the vacuum can of a dip-stick-type cryoprobe. A damped spring system is used to reduce interference from extraneous mechanical vibrations. The microscope is integrated in a personal-computer-based data acquisition and control setup. ©1995 American Institute of Physics.