We investigate fiber placement issues associated with a hybrid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) near-infrared (NIR) imaging technique for small animal brain studies. Location of the optical fibers on the cranium is examined, with an emphasis on maximizing the recovered resolution and contrast in the region of interest, which in this case is the murine brain. In a series of simulation studies, singular value decomposition of the Jacobian is used in order to determine the measurement sites that provide the most information about the region of interest. The modeling results indicate that data collected using fibers arranged on one side of the head near the brain contain as much information about optical changes within the brain as those positioned equally spaced around the entire periphery of the head. Practical space limitation considerations favor the one-sided fiber array geometry in the case where the NIR acquisition is expected to occur simultaneously with MRI. © 2003 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.