Identifying neovascularity (angiogenesis) as an early feature of inflammatory arthritis can help in early accurate diagnosis and treatment monitoring of this disease. Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is a hybrid imaging modality which relies on intrinsic differences in the optical absorption among the tissues being imaged. Since blood has highly absorbing chromophores including both oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin, PAT holds potential in identifying early angiogenesis associated with inflammatory joint diseases. PAT is used to identify changes in the development of inflammatory arthritis in a rat model. Imaging at two different wavelengths, 1064 nm and 532 nm, on rats revealed that there is a significant signal enhancement in the ankle joints of the arthritis affected rats when compared to the normal control group. Histology images obtained from both the normal and the arthritis affected rats correlated well with the PAT findings. Results support the fact that the emerging PAT could become a new tool for clinical management of inflammatory arthritis.