Under stress conditions, pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 beta, interleukin 6 and interferon gamma are released. It is known that these cytokines stimulate indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO), which increase tryptophan metabolism through the kynurenine pathway, and that this can cause increased production of neurotoxic compounds. Brain tissues from Alzheimer’s disease patients and agematched controls were investigated using label-free fluorescence spectroscopy. Tryptophan (exc. 280/ em. 340 nm) and its metabolites (N-formyl-L-kynurenine (exc. 325/em. 434 nm), kynurenine (exc. 365/em. 480 nm) and kynurenic acid (exc. 330/em. 390 nm)) have distinct spectral profiles. Preliminary results show a difference in the optical signatures in three important areas of the brain (hippocampus, BA 9, BA 17) between patients with Alzheimer’s disease and agedmatched controls (normal), and a marked relative increase in tryptophan in the Alzheimer’s patients. Thus determinations of tryptophan to tryptophan metabolite ratios could potentially be used to measure IDO and TDO activity and the degree of inflammation in the brain. This label-free optical technique may be useful in the study of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.