Invasive and biomaterial-associated infections in humans are often difficult to diagnose and treat. Here, guided by recent advances in clinically relevant optical imaging technologies, we explore the use of fluorescently labelled vancomycin (vanco-800CW) to specifically target and detect infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria. The application potential of vanco-800CW for real-time in vivo imaging of bacterial infections is assessed in a mouse myositis model and a human post-mortem implant model. We show that vanco-800CW can specifically detect Gram-positive bacterial infections in our mouse myositis model, discriminate bacterial infections from sterile inflammation in vivo and detect biomaterial-associated infections in the lower leg of a human cadaver. We conclude that vanco-800CW has a high potential for enhanced non-invasive diagnosis of infections with Gram-positive bacteria and is a promising candidate for early-phase clinical trials.