A 32-channel time-resolved optical imaging device is developed at University College London to produce functional images of the neonatal brain and the female breast. Reconstruction of images using time-resolved measurements of transmitted light requires careful calibration of the temporal characteristics of the measurement system. Since they can often vary over a period of time, it is desirable to evaluate these characteristics immediately after, or prior to, the acquisition of image data. A calibration technique is investigated that is based on the measurement of light back-reflected from the surface of the object being imaged. This is facilitated by coupling each detector channel with an individual source fiber. A Monte Carlo model is employed to investigate the influence of the optical properties of the object on the back-reflected signal. The results of simulations indicate that their influence may be small enough to be ignored in some cases, or could be largely accounted for by a small adjustment to the calibrated data. The effectiveness of the method is briefly demonstrated by imaging a solid object with tissue-equivalent optical properties. © 2003 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.