A major source of kidneys for transplant comes from deceased donors whose tissues have suffered an unknown amount of warm ischemia prior to retrieval, with no quantitative means to assess function before transplant. Toward addressing this need, non-contact monitoring of optical signatures in rat kidneys was performed in vivo during ischemia and reperfusion. Kidney autofluorescence images were captured under ultraviolet illumination (355 nm, 325 nm, and 266 nm) in order to provide information on related metabolic and non-metabolic response. In addition, light scattering images under 355 nm, 325 nm, and 266 nm, 500 nm illumination were monitored to report on changes in kidney optical properties giving rise to the observed autofluorescence signals during these processes. During reperfusion, various signal ratios were generated from the recorded signals and then parametrized. Time-dependent parameters derived from the ratio of autofluorescence under 355 nm excitation to that under 266 nm excitation, as well as from 500 nm scattered signal, were found capable of discriminating dysfunctional kidneys from those that were functional (p < 0.01) within hours of reperfusion. Kidney dysfunction was confirmed by subsequent survival study and histology following autopsy up to a week later. Physiologic changes potentially giving rise to the observed signals, including those in cellular metabolism, vascular response, tissue microstructure, and microenvironment chemistry, are discussed.