Patches of atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) have not been described in rodent models of retinal degeneration, as they have the clinical setting using fundus autofluorescence. We hypothesize that prelabeling the RPE would increase contrast and allow for improved visualization of RPE loss in vivo. Here, we demonstrate a new technique termed “delayed near-infrared analysis (DNIRA)” that permits ready detection of rat RPE, using optical imaging in the near-infrared (IR) spectrum with aid of indocyanine green (ICG) dye. Using DNIRA, we demonstrate a fluorescent RPE signal that is detected using confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy up to 28 days following ICG injection. This signal is apparent only after ICG injection, is dose dependent, requires the presence of the ICG filters (795/810 nm excitation/emission), does not appear in the IR reflectance channel, and is eliminated in the presence of sodium iodate, a toxin that causes RPE loss. Rat RPE explants confirm internalization of ICG dye. Together with normal retinal electrophysiology, these findings demonstrate that DNIRA is a new and safe noninvasive optical imaging technique for in vivo visualization of the RPE in models of retinal disease.