In vivo bioluminescence imaging is becoming increasingly popular. Quantification of bioluminescence signals requires knowledge of the variability and reproducibility of this technique. The objective of this study was to analyze the time course of luminescent signal emitted from firefly luciferase-expressing tumors in two locations, following luciferin injection and at different times after tumor cell implantation. Knowledge of the kinetics of the bioluminescent signals is required for the reliable quantification and comparison of signal during longitudinal studies. The kinetics of bioluminescence was evaluated in orthotopic and heterotopic brain tumors in mice using a human brain tumor cell line constitutively expressing luciferase. Tumor cells were implanted in the brains and flanks of the animals, and whole-body images revealing tumor location were obtained. Tumor burden was monitored over time by the quantitation of photon emission. The magnitude of bioluminescence measured in vivo varied with time after the injection of luciferin, as well as with dose, which necessitated that the comparison of the quantitative results take into consideration the time after injection. Heterotopic and orthotopic tumors exhibited significantly different time courses; however, time after implantation as characterized by kinetic studies performed on days 4 and 14 after cell implantation revealed no significant differences in orthotopic tumors. Future quantitative longitudinal studies must take into account the differences in the kinetics of different models.