Progress in biomedical imaging depends on the development of probes that combine low toxicity with high sensitivity, resolution, and stability. Toward that end, a new class of highly fluorescent core-shell silica nanoparticles with narrow size distributions and enhanced photostability, known as C dots, provide an appealing alternative to quantum dots. Here, C dots are evaluated with a particular emphasis on in-vivo applications in cancer biology. It is established that C dots are nontoxic at biologically relevant concentrations, and can be used in a broad range of imaging applications including intravital visualization of capillaries and macrophages, sentinel lymph node mapping, and peptide-mediated multicolor cell labeling for real-time imaging of tumor metastasis and tracking of injected bone marrow cells in mice. These results demonstrate that fluorescent core-shell silica nanoparticles represent a powerful novel imaging tool within the emerging field of nanomedicine.