Lungs represent the essential part of the mammalian respiratory system, which is reflected in the fact that lung failure still is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Establishing the connection between macroscopic observations of inspiration and expiration and the processes taking place at the microscopic scale remains crucial to understand fundamental physiological and pathological processes. Here we demonstrate for the first time in vivo synchrotron-based tomographic imaging of lungs with pixel sizes down to a micrometer, enabling first insights into high-resolution lung structure. We report the methodological ability to study lung inflation patterns at the alveolar scale and its potential in resolving still open questions in lung physiology. As a first application, we identified heterogeneous distension patterns at the alveolar level and assessed first comparisons of lungs between the in vivo and immediate post mortem states.