To develop an indocyanine green (ICG) tracer with slower clearance kinetics, we explored ICG-encapsulating liposomes (Lip) in three different formulations: untargeted (Lip/ICG), targeted to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors (scVEGF-Lip/ICG) by the receptor-binding moiety single-chain VEGF (scVEGF), or decorated with inactivated scVEGF (inactive-Lip/ICG) that does not bind to VEGF receptors. Experiments were conducted with tumor-bearing mice that were placed in a scattering medium with tumors located at imaging depths of either 1.5 or 2.0 cm. Near-infrared fluorescence diffuse optical tomography that provides depth-resolved spatial distributions of fluorescence in tumor was used for the detection of postinjection fluorescent signals. All liposome-based tracers, as well as free ICG, were injected intravenously into mice in the amounts corresponding to 5 nmol of ICG/mouse, and the kinetics of increase and decrease of fluorescent signals in tumors were monitored. A signal from free ICG reached maximum at 15-min postinjection and then rapidly declined with t1/2 of ∼20 min. The signals from untargeted Lip/ICG and inactive-Lip/ICG also reached maximum at 15-min postinjection, however, declined somewhat slower than free ICG with t1/2 of ∼30 min. By contrast, a signal from targeted scVEGF-Lip/ICG grew slower than that of all other tracers, reaching maximum at 30-min postinjection and declined much slower than that of other tracers with t1/2 of ∼90 min, providing a more extended observation window. Higher scVEGF-Lip/ICG tumor accumulation was further confirmed by the analysis of fluorescence on cryosections of tumors that were harvested from animals at 400 min after injection with different tracers.