A significant proportion of colorectal adenomas, in particular those that lack an elevated growth component, continue to escape detection during endoscopic surveillance. Elevation of the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a large family of zinc endopeptidases, in adenomas serves as a biomarker of early tumorigenesis. The goal of this study was to assess the feasibility of using a newly developed near-infrared bioactivatable probe (MMPSense 680) that reports the activity of a broad array of MMP isoforms to detect early colorectal adenomas. Adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc)(+/Min-FCCC) mice that spontaneously develop multiple colorectal adenomas were injected with MMPSense 680, and the colons were imaged in an IVIS Spectrum system ex vivo. Image analyses were correlated with histopathologic findings for all regions of interest (ROIs). The biochemical basis of fluorescent signal was investigated by immunohistochemical staining of MMP-7 and -9. A strong correlation (Kendall = 0.80) was observed between a positive signal and the presence of pathologically confirmed colonic adenomas; 92.9% of the 350 ROIs evaluated were classified correctly. The correlation between two independent observers was 0.87. MMP-7 expression was localized to epithelial cells of adenomas and microadenomas, whereas staining of MMP-9 was found in infiltrating polymorphonuclear leukocytes within the adenomas. MMPSense 680 identifies colorectal adenomas, both polypoid and nonpolypoid, in Apc(+/Min-FCCC) mice with high specificity. Use of this fluorescent probe in combination with colonoscopy could aid in preventing colorectal neoplasias by providing new opportunities for early detection and therapeutic intervention.