Astrocytes play important roles in normal brain function and neurological diseases. In vivo two-photon excitation laser scanning microscopy has the potential to reveal rapid, dynamic structural changes in cells in a variety of physiological and pathological conditions. The type of in vivo imaging method has been shown to affect the plasticity of dendritic spines of neurons, but the optimal in vivo imaging methods of astrocytes have not been established. We compared open-skull and thinned-skull imaging methods for two-photon laser microscopy of live astrocytes in neocortex of GFAP-GFP transgenic mice. The thinned-skull method provided stable image intensity and morphological features of astrocytes in vivo over at least one week, with no evidence of astrogliosis. In contrast, the open-skull method resulted in significant changes in image intensity and induced astrogliosis. The thinned-skull method is the preferred approach for in vivo imaging of astrocytes under most conditions involving gross astrocyte modulation or causing astrogliosis.