The development of sensors for noninvasive determination of oxygen levels in live cells and tissues is critical for the understanding of cellular functions, as well as for monitoring the status of disease, such as cancer, and for predicting the efficacy of therapy. We describe such nontoxic, targeted, and ratiometric 30 nm oxygen nanosensors made of polyacrylamide hydrogel, near-infrared (NIR) luminescent dyes, and surface-conjugated tumor-specific peptides. They enabled noninvasive real-time monitoring of oxygen levels in live cancer cells under normal and hypoxic conditions. The required sensitivity, brightness, selectivity, and stability were achieved by tailoring the interaction between the nanomatrix and indicator dyes. The developed nanosensors may become useful for in vivo oxygen measurements.