Molecular-genetic imaging is advancing from a valuable preclinical tool to a guide for patient management. The strategy involves pairing an imaging reporter gene with a complementary imaging agent in a system that can be used to measure gene expression or protein interaction or track gene-tagged cells in vivo. Tissue-specific promoters can be used to delineate gene expression in certain tissues, particularly when coupled with an appropriate amplification mechanism. Here we show that the progression elevated gene-3 (PEG-3) promoter, derived from a rodent gene mediating tumor progression and metastatic phenotypes, can be used to drive imaging reporters selectively to enable detection of micrometastatic disease in mouse models of human melanoma and breast cancer using bioluminescence and radionuclide-based molecular imaging techniques. Because of its strong promoter activity, tumor specificity and capacity for clinical translation, PEG-3 promoter-driven gene expression may represent a practical, new system for facilitating cancer imaging and therapy.