Blood vessel injury during image-guided brain biopsy poses a risk of hemorrhage. Approaches that reduce this risk may minimize related patient morbidity. We present here an intraoperative imaging device that has the potential to detect the brain vasculature in situ. The device uses multiple diffuse reflectance spectra acquired in an outward-viewing geometry to detect intravascular hemoglobin, enabling the construction of an optical image in the vicinity of the biopsy needle revealing the proximity to blood vessels. This optical detection system seamlessly integrates into a commercial biopsy system without disrupting the neurosurgical clinical workflow. Using diffusive brain tissue phantoms, we show that this device can detect 0.5-mm diameter absorptive carbon rods up to ∼2 mm from the biopsy window. We also demonstrate feasibility and practicality of the technique in a clinical environment to detect brain vasculature in an in vivo model system. In situ brain vascular detection may add a layer of safety to image-guided biopsies and minimize patient morbidity.