Colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening for inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Flexible endoscopes are difficult to manipulate, especially in the distensible and tortuous colon, sometimes leading to disorientation during the procedure and missed diagnosis of lesions. Our goal is to design a navigational aid to guide colonoscopies, presenting a three dimensional representation of the endoscope in real-time. Therefore, a flexible sensor that can track the position and shape of the entire length of the endoscope is needed. We describe a novel shape-tracking technology utilizing a single modified optical fiber. By embedding fluorophores in the buffer of the fiber, we demonstrated a relationship between fluorescence intensity and fiber curvature. As much as a 40% increase in fluorescence intensity was achieved when the fiber's local bend radius decreased from 58 mm to 11 mm. This approach allows for the construction of a three-dimensional shape tracker that is small enough to be easily inserted into the biopsy channel of current endoscopes.© (2008) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.