Many nanoparticle contrast agents have difficulties with deep tissue and near-bone imaging due to limited penetration of visible photons in the body and mineralized tissues. We are looking into the possibility of mediating this problem while retaining the capabilities of the high spatial resolution associated with optical imaging. As such, the potential combination of emerging photoacoustic imaging and nuclear imaging in monitoring of antirheumatic drug delivery by using a newly developed dual-modality contrast agent is investigated. The contrast agent is composed of gold nanorods (GNRs) conjugated to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) antibody and is subsequently radiolabeled by 125I. ELISA experiments designed to test TNF-α binding are performed to prove the specificity and biological activity of the radiolabeled conjugated contrast agent. Photoacoustic and nuclear imaging are performed to visualize the distribution of GNRs in articular tissues of the rat tail joints in situ. Findings from the two imaging modalities correspond well with each other in all experiments. Our system can image GNRs down to a concentration of 10 pM in biological tissues and with a radioactive label of 5 μCi. This study demonstrates the potential of combining photoacoustic and nuclear imaging modalities through one targeted contrast agent for noninvasive monitoring of drug delivery as well as deep and mineralized tissue imaging.