A common strategy to study breast cancer is the use of the preclinical model. These models provide a physiologically relevant and controlled environment in which to study both response to novel treatments and the biology of the cancer. Preclinical models, including the spontaneous tumor model and mammary window chamber model, are very amenable to optical imaging and to this end, we have developed a wide-field functional imaging (WiFI) instrument that is perfectly suited to studying tumor metabolism in preclinical models. WiFI combines two optical imaging modalities, spatial frequency domain imaging (SFDI) and laser speckle imaging (LSI). Our current WiFI imaging protocol consists of multispectral imaging in the near infrared (650-980 nm) spectrum, over a wide (7 cm x 5 cm) field of view. Using SFDI, the spatially-resolved reflectance of sinusoidal patterns projected onto the tissue is assessed, and optical properties of the tissue are determined, which are then used to extract tissue chromophore concentrations in the form of oxy-, deoxy-, and total hemoglobin concentrations, and percentage of lipid and water. In the current study, we employ Monte Carlo simulations of SFDI light propagation in order to characterize the penetration depth of light in both the spontaneous tumor model and mammary window chamber model. Preliminary results suggest that different spatial frequency and wavelength combinations have different penetration depths, suggesting the potential depth sectioning capability of the SFDI component of WiFI. © 2010 Copyright SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.