During neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer, little information is available on the response or non-response of the tumor to the treatment. Pathologic complete response is correlated with survival, but patients and clinicians both must wait until after the patient undergoes surgery and the resected tissue is analyzed in order to assign pathologic response. Because structural imaging modalities and clinical palpation are poor predictors of pathologic response, there is need for an inexpensive imaging method which is sensitive to the changing physiology of the tumor. Such a method should be noninvasive, to permit frequent monitoring during therapy. Near-infrared optical imaging has already shown promise for monitoring neoadjuvant chemotherapy, with measurement of hemodynamics providing additional information over baseline chromophore concentrations. These contrasts rely on the highly vascularized nature of most breast tumors, as well as the abnormal vasculature, which can produce a different response to perturbations than healthy tissue. Here we describe the development of a new held-held spatial-frequency domain imaging (SFDI) device, to be used for measuring the response of breast tissue to local compression. Device design is described, as well as validation on optical phantoms, and in vivo. Compression studies were performed in soft optical phantoms containing stiff, tumor-mimicking inclusions, which indicate the potential for compression to be used to bring stiff lesions within a depth which can be measured with SFDI. Additionally, the hemodynamic response of pressure cuff venous occlusion is described, measured on the forearm, and this response is contrasted with the hemodynamic response to local tissue compression.