The fluorescent properties of the reduced coenzyme NADH and its phosphorylated derivative (NADPH) have been explored in order to assess their potential as an intrinsic probe for cancer surgery. NADPH production is increased in cancer cells to quench reactive oxygen species and meet higher demands for biosynthesis, and has attractive fluorescent properties such as emission towards the visible part of the spectrum and a relatively long fluorescence lifetime upon binding to enzymes (~ 1 – 6.5 ns) that helps discriminate against other endogenous species. Different environmental effects on NAD(P)H fluorescence are reported here, including an increase in lifetime upon oxygen removal, an ability to retain its fluorescent properties in a complex medium (a silica phantom) and its fluorescence lifetime also being distinguishable in a cell environment. In addition, the development of a miniaturized liquid light guide filter-based timecorrelated single photon counting fluorescence lifetime system is reported as a step towards time-resolved visual imaging in cancer surgery. This system has been demonstrated as being capable of accurately measuring NAD(P)H fluorescence lifetimes in both simple solvent and cellular environments.