A newly developed measurement system for current density distribution mapping has enabled a new approach for operational measurements in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). Taking into account previously constructed measurement systems, a method based on a multi layer printed circuit board was chosen for the development of the new system. This type of system consists of a sensor, a special electronic device and the control and visualization PC. For the acquisition of the current density distribution values, a sensor device was designed and installed within a multilayer printed circuit board with integrated shunt resistors. Varying shunt values can be taken into consideration with a newly developed and evaluated calibration method. The sensor device was integrated in a PEM fuel cell stack to prove the functionality of the whole measurement system. A software application was implemented to visualize and save the measurement values. Its functionality was verified by operational measurements within a PEMFC system. Measurement accuracy and possible negative reactions of the sensor device during PEMFC operation are discussed in detail in this paper. The developed system enables operational measurements for different operating phases of PEM fuel cells. Additionally, this can be seen as a basis for new opportunities of optimization for fuel cell design and operation modes.