A theoretical analysis of two-color polarization spectroscopy (TCPS) is presented as an extension of a previous analysis of one-color PS. Three commonly used schemes in which pump and probe transitions share a common level are considered. Diagrammatic techniques are used to isolate the photon interaction sequences that can contribute to the signal. A perturbation-theory analysis expressing the signal in terms of spherical tensor moments is applied. The analysis emphasises the significance of orientation and alignment tensor moments of rotational angular momentum and their collisional evolution. The assumed context is transitions between single rotational states of gas-phase molecules that subsequently suffer discrete collisions. The time scale of the measurements is assumed to be long relative to the periods of molecular motion, as would typically be the case for signals excited by nanosecond-pulsed lasers from samples at moderate pressures. The Doppler motion of the probed species is included, as is an analytical solution to the integration over the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of velocities. The effects of nuclear hyperfine depolarization and velocity-changing collisions are discussed. It is shown that when pump- and probe-laser pulses are separated in time, TCPS creates and probes either orientation or alignment of rotational angular momentum in the common level shared by pump and probe transitions. Example simulations of one- and two-color polarization spectroscopies are included to demonstrate the resulting simplification of the measured signal using TCPS. TCPS is therefore a viable spectroscopic technique for the determination of rotational angular momentum orientation and alignment relaxation rates in molecular gases, of interest because they are sensitive probes of inelastic collisions. © 2005 American Institute of Physics.