We have recently demonstrated that Renilla luciferase (Rluc) is a promising bioluminescence reporter gene that can be used for noninvasive optical imaging of reporter gene expression in living mice, with the aid of a cooled charged couple device (CCD) camera. In the current study, we explore the expression of a novel synthetic Renilla luciferase reporter gene (hRluc) in living mice, which has previously been reported to be a more sensitive reporter than native Rluc in mammalian cells. We explore the strategies of simultaneous imaging of both Renilla luciferase enzyme (RL) and synthetic Renilla luciferase enzyme (hRL):coelenterazine (substrate for RL/hRL) in the same living mouse. We also demonstrate that hRL:coelenterazine can yield a higher signal when compared to Firefly luciferase enzyme (FL): D-Luciferin, both in cell culture studies and when imaged from cells at the surface and from lungs of living mice. These studies demonstrate that hRluc should be a useful primary reporter gene with high sensitivity when used alone or in conjunction with other bioluminescence reporter genes for imaging in living rodents. © 2004 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.