A new technique based on the optogalvanic effect has been developed for the measurement of stable isotope ratios in the carbon dioxide of exhaled breath. Data obtained before and after ingestion of harmless stable isotope labeled compounds, metabolized to carbon dioxide, can be used for sensitive noninvasive diagnostics of various disease conditions. The technique uses the specificity of laser resonance spectroscopy and achieves sensitivity and accuracy typical of sophisticated isotope ratio mass spectrometers. Using fixed frequency carbon dioxide lasers, 13C/ 12C ratios can be determined with a precision of 2 ppm with 100 second averaging times. Multiple samples can be analyzed simultaneously providing real time continuous calibration. In a first application, analysis of 13C/ 12C ratios in exhaled human breath after ingestion of 13C labeled urea is being developed as a diagnostic for the bacterium H-pylori, known to be the causative agent for most peptic and duodenal ulcers.