The solubilization of biological membranes by detergents has been used as a major method for the isolation and purification of membrane proteins and other constituents. Considerable interest in this field has resulted from the finding that different components can be solubilized selectively. Certain membrane constituents are incorporated into small micelles, whereas others remain in the so-called detergent-resistant membrane domains that are large enough to be separated by centrifugation. The detergent-resistant fractions contain an elevated percentage of cholesterol, and thus its interaction with specific lipids and proteins may be key for membrane organization and regulation of cellular signaling events. This report focuses on the solubilization process induced by the sucrose monoester of myristic acid, beta-D-fructofuranosyl-6-O-myristyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside (MMS), a nonionic detergent. We studied the effect of the head group and the cholesterol content on the process. 1-Palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) and dioctadecyl-dimethyl-ammonium chloride (DODAC) vesicles were used, and the solubilization process was followed using Laurdan (6-dodecanoyl-2-dimethylaminonaphthalene) generalized polarization (GP) measurements, carried out in the cuvette and in the 2-photon microscope. Our results indicate that: (i) localization of the MMS moieties in the lipid bilayer depends on the characteristics of the lipid polar head group and influences the solubilization process. (ii) Insertion of cholesterol molecules into the lipid bilayer protects it from solubilizaton and (iii) the microscopic mechanism of solubilization by MMS implies the decrease in size of the individual liposomes.