Currently, several noninvasive modalities, including MRI and PET, are being investigated to identify early intestinal inflammation, longitudinally monitor disease status, or detect dysplastic changes in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Here, we assess the applicability and utility of multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) in evaluating the presence and severity of colitis. Methods: C57B/6 mice were untreated or treated with Bacteroides fragilis and antibiotic-mediated depletion of intestinal flora to initiate colitis. Mice were imaged using MSOT to detect intestinal inflammation. Intestinal inflammation identified with MSOT was also confirmed using both colonoscopy and histology. Results: Mice with bacterial colitis demonstrated a temporally associated increase in mesenteric and colonic vascularity with an increase in mean signal intensity of oxygenated hemoglobin (P = 0.004) by MSOT 2 d after inoculation. These findings were significantly more prominent 7 d after inoculation, with increased mean signal intensity of oxygenated hemoglobin (P = 0.0002) and the development of punctate vascular lesions on the colonic surface, which corresponded to changes observed on colonoscopy as well as histology. Conclusion: With improvements in depth of tissue penetration, MSOT may hold potential as a sensitive, accurate, noninvasive imaging tool in the evaluation of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.