In this paper we develop the concept of a tissue-engineered optical phantom that uses engineered tissue as a phantom for calibration and optimization of biomedical optics instrumentation. With this method, the effects of biological processes on measured signals can be studied in a well controlled manner. To demonstrate this concept, we attempted to investigate how the cellular remodeling of a collagen matrix affected the optical properties extracted from optical coherence tomography (OCT) images of the samples. Tissue-engineered optical phantoms of the vascular system were created by seeding smooth muscle cells in a collagen matrix. Four different optical properties were evaluated by fitting the OCT signal to 2 different models: the sample reflectivity ρ and attenuation parameter μ were extracted from the single scattering model, and the scattering coefficient μs and root-mean-square scattering angle θrms were extracted from the extended Huygens-Fresnel model. We found that while contraction of the smooth muscle cells was clearly evident macroscopically, on the microscopic scale very few cells were actually embedded in the collagen. Consequently, no significant difference between the cellular and acellular samples in either set of measured optical properties was observed. We believe that further optimization of our tissue-engineering methods is needed in order to make the histology and biochemistry of the cellular samples sufficiently different from the acellular samples on the microscopic level. Once these methods are optimized, we can better verify whether the optical properties of the cellular and acellular collagen samples differ.