Vascular leakage in the brain is a major complication associated with brain injuries and certain pathological conditions due to disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We have developed an optical imaging method, based on excitation and emission spectra of Evans Blue dye, that is >1000-fold more sensitive than conventional ultraviolet spectrophotometry. We used a rat thromboembolic stroke model to validate the usefulness of our method for vascular leakage. Optical imaging data show that vascular leakage varies in different areas of the post-stroke brain and that administering tissue plasminogen activator causes further leakage. The new method is quantitative, simple to use, requires no tissue processing, and can map the degree of vascular leakage in different brain locations. The high sensitivity of our method could potentially provide new opportunities to study BBB leakage in different pathological conditions and to test the efficacy of various therapeutic strategies to protect the BBB.