We describe the development of an aggressive orthotopic metastatic model of esophageal cancer, which is visualized in real time with combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescence imaging. The aim of the study was to describe the development of a novel model of metastatic tumor disease of esophageal carcinoma and use this model to evaluate fluorescence and MRI in early detection of local and metastatic disease. The human esophageal adenocarcinoma cell line PT1590 was stably transfected with green fluorescent protein (GFP). Nude mice were orthotopically implanted with PT1590-GFP cells. Orthotopic tumor growth as well as metastatic spread was examined by fluorescence imaging and high-resolution MRI at defined intervals after orthotopic implantation. Highly aggressive novel fluorescent cell lines were isolated from metastatic tissues and put into culture. After implantation of these cells, 100% of the animals developed orthotopic primary tumors. In 83% of animals, metastatic spread to liver, lung and lymph nodes was observed. Primary tumor growth could be visualized with fluorescence imaging and with MRI with high correlation between the 2 methods. Fluorescence imaging allows fast, sensitive, and economical imaging of the primary and metastatic tumor without anesthesia. With MRI, anatomical structures are visualized more precisely and tumors can be more accurately localized to specific organs. This model should prove highly useful to understand esophageal carcinoma and to identify novel therapeutics for this treatment-resistant disease.