A primary focus of neurointensive care is monitoring the injured brain to detect harmful events that can impair cerebral blood flow (CBF). Since current non-invasive bedside methods can only indirectly assess blood flow, the goal of this research was to develop an optical technique for measuring absolute CBF. A time-resolved near-infrared (NIR) apparatus was built and its ability to accurately measure changes in optical properties was demonstrated in tissue-mimicking phantoms. The time-resolved system was combined with a bolus-tracking method for measuring CBF using the dye indocyanine green (ICG) as an intravascular flow tracer. Cerebral blood flow was measured in newborn piglets and for comparison, CBF was concurrently measured using a previously developed continuous-wave NIR method. Measurements were acquired with both techniques under three conditions: normocapnia, hypercapnia and following occlusion of the carotid arteries. Mean CBF values (N = 3) acquired with the TR-NIR system were 31.9 ± 11.7 ml/100g/min during occlusion, 39.7 ± 1.6 ml/100g/min at normocapnia, and 58.8 ± 9.9 ml/100g/min at hypercapnia. Results demonstrate that the developed TR-NIR technique has the sensitivity to measure changes in CBF; however, the CBF measurements were approximately 25% lower than the values obtained with the CW-NIRS technique.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.