2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]FDG) has extensively been used for clinical diagnosis, staging, and therapy monitoring of cancer and other diseases. Nonradioactive glucose analogues enabling the screening of the glucose metabolic rate of tumors are of particular interest for anticancer drug development. A nonradioactive fluorescent deoxyglucose analogue may have many applications for both imaging of tumors and monitoring therapeutic efficacy of drugs in living animals and may eventually translate to clinical applications. We found that a fluorescent 2-deoxyglucose analogue, 2-[N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino]-2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-NBDG), can be delivered in several tumor cells via the glucose transporters (GLUTs). We therefore conjugated D-glucosamine with a near-infrared (NIR) fluorphor Cy5.5 and tested the feasibility of the Cy5.5-D-glucosamine (Cy5.5-2DG) conjugate for NIR fluorescence imaging of tumors in a preclinical xenograft animal model. Cy5.5-2DG was prepared by conjugating Cy5.5 monofunctional N-hydroxysuccinimide ester (Cy5.5-NHS) and D-glucosamine followed by high-performance liquid chromatography purification. The accumulation of Cy5.5-2DG and Cy5.5-NHS in different tumor cell lines at 37 and 4 degrees C were imaged using a fluorescence microscope. Tumor targeting and retention of Cy5.5-2DG and Cy5.5-NHS in a subcutaneous U87MG glioma and A375M melanoma tumor model were evaluated and quantified by a Xenogen IVIS 200 optical cooled charged-coupled device system. Fluorescence microscopy imaging shows that Cy5.5-2DG and Cy5.5-NHS are taken up and trapped by a variety of tumor cell lines at 37 degrees C incubation, while they exhibit marginal uptake at 4 degrees C. The tumor cell uptake of Cy5.5-2DG cannot be blocked by the 50 mM D-glucose, suggesting that Cy5.5-2DG may not be delivered in tumor cells by GLUTs. U87MG and A375M tumor localization was clearly visualized in living mice with both NIR fluorescent probes. Tumor/muscle contrast was clearly visible as early as 30 min postinjection (pi), and the highest U87MG tumor/muscle ratios of 2.81 +/- 0.10 and 3.34 +/- 0.23 were achieved 24 h pi for Cy5.5-2DG and Cy5.5-NHS, respectively. While as a comparison, the micropositron emission tomography imaging study shows that [18F]FDG preferentially localizes to the U87MG tumor, with resulting tumor/muscle ratios ranging from 3.89 to 4.08 after 30 min to 2 h postadministration of the probe. In conclusion, the NIR fluorescent glucose analogues, Cy5.5-2DG and Cy5.5-NHS, both demonstrate tumor-targeting abilities in cell culture and living mice. More studies are warranted to further explore their application for optical tumor imaging. To develop NIR glucose analogues with the ability to target GLUTs/hexokinase, it is highly important to select NIR dyes with a reasonable molecular size.