This paper develops a new noncontact laser lock-in thermography (LLT) technique for detection of surface-breaking fatigue cracks on uncoated steel structures with low surface emissivity. LLT utilizes a modulated continuous (CW) wave laser as a heat source for lock-in thermography instead of commonly used flash and halogen lamps. LLT has the following merits: (1) the laser heat source can be precisely positioned at a long distance from a target structure thank to its directionality and low energy loss, (2) a large target structure can be inspected using a scanning laser heat source, (3) no special surface treatment of the target structure is necessary to generate and measure thermal wavefields, (4) thermal image noises created by arbitrary surrounding heat sources can be effectively eliminated and (5) the use of a low peak power laser makes it possible to avoid surface ablation. The LLT system is developed by integrating and synchronizing a modulated CW laser, a galvanometer and an infrared camera. Then, a fatigue crack evaluation algorithm based on a holder exponent analysis is proposed. The performance of the proposed LLT technique is validated through thermal wavefield imaging and fatigue crack evaluation tests on an uncoated steel plate with emissivity of 0.8 and a welded T-shape joint with emissivity of 0.7. Test results confirm that thermal wavefield images are effectively captured even when surface-reflected background noises and laser-generated thermal waves coexist, and surface-breaking cracks are successfully evaluated without any special surface treatment.