A new method is described for obtaining a 3-D reconstruction of a bioluminescent light source distribution inside a living animal subject, from multispectral images of the surface light emission acquired on charge-coupled device (CCD) camera. The method uses the 3-D surface topography of the animal, which is obtained from a structured light illumination technique. The forward model of photon transport is based on the diffusion approximation in homogeneous tissue with a local planar boundary approximation for each mesh element, allowing rapid calculation of the forward Green's function kernel. Absorption and scattering properties of tissue are measured a priori as input to the algorithm. By using multispectral images, 3-D reconstructions of luminescent sources can be derived from images acquired from only a single view. As a demonstration, the reconstruction technique is applied to determine the location and brightness of a source embedded in a homogeneous phantom subject in the shape of a mouse. The technique is then evaluated with real mouse models in which calibrated sources are implanted at known locations within living tissue. Finally, reconstructions are demonstrated in a PC3M-luc (prostate tumor line) metastatic tumor model in nude mice.