A resonant-cavity apparatus for cytometry or particle analysis. The apparatus comprises a resonant optical cavity having an analysis region within the cavity for containing one or more biological cells or dielectric particles to be analyzed. In the presence of a cell or particle, a light beam in the form of spontaneous emission or lasing is generated within the resonant optical cavity and is encoded with information about the cell or particle. An analysis means including a spectrometer and/or a pulse-height analyzer is provided within the apparatus for recovery of the information from the light beam to determine a size, shape, identification or other characteristics about the cells or particles being analyzed. The recovered information can be grouped in a multi-dimensional coordinate space for identification of particular types of cells or particles. In some embodiments of the apparatus, the resonant optical cavity can be formed, at least in part, from a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser. The apparatus and method are particularly suited to the analysis of biological cells, including blood cells, and can further include processing means for manipulating, sorting, or eradicating cells after analysis thereof.