A unique fluorescence imaging system incorporates multi-channel spectrometer-based optical detection directly into clinical MRI for simultaneous MR and spectrally-resolved fluorescence tomography acquisition in small animal and human breast-sized volumes. A custom designed MRI rodent coil adapted to accommodate optical fibers in a circular geometry for contact mode acquisition provides small animal imaging capabilities, and human breast-sized volumes are imaged using a clinical breast coil modified with an optical fiber patient array. Spectroscopy fibers couple light emitted from the tissue surface to sixteen highly sensitive CCD-based spectrometers operating in parallel. Tissue structural information obtained from standard and contrast enhanced T1-weighted images is used to spatially constrain the diffuse fluorescence tomography reconstruction algorithm, improving fluorescence imaging capabilities qualitatively and quantitatively. Simultaneous acquisition precludes the use of complex co-registration processes. Calibration procedures for the optical acquisition system are reviewed and the imaging limits of the system are investigated in homogeneous and heterogeneous gelatin phantoms containing Indocyanine Green (ICG). Prior knowledge of fluorescence emission spectra is used to de-couple fluorescence emission from residual excitation laser cross-talk. Preliminary in vivo data suggests improved fluorescence imaging in mouse brain tumors using MR-derived spatial priors. U-251 human gliomas were implanted intracranially into nude mice and combined contrast enhanced MRI/fluorescence tomography acquisition was completed at 24 hour intervals over the course of 72 hours after administration of an EGFR targeted NIR fluorophore. Reconstructed images demonstrate an inability to recover reasonable images of fluorescence activity without the use of MRI spatial priors.