Photoacoustic (PA) imaging has emerged as a noninvasive diagnostic method which detects ultrasonic waves thermoelastically induced by optical absorbers irradiated with laser. For tumor diagnosis, PA contrast agent has been proposed to enhance the PA effect for detecting tumors sensitively. Here, we prepared a human serum albumin (HSA) conjugated with indocyanine green (ICG) as a PA contrast agent allowing enhanced permeability and retention effect for sensitive tumor imaging. The feasibility of PA imaging with HSA-ICG to detect allografted tumors was evaluated in tumor-bearing mice. In vivo fluorescence imaging and radiolabeled biodistribution study showed that the biodistribution dramatically changed as the number of ICG bound to HSA increased, and the maximum accumulation of ICG was achieved when around three ICG molecules were loaded on an HSA. In vivo PA imaging demonstrated a tumor-selective and dose-dependent increase of PA signal intensity in mice injected with HSA-ICG (, 387% increase for HSA-ICG, 104 nmol ICG). In conclusion, HSA-ICG clearly visualized the allografted tumors with high tumor-to-background ratios having high quantitative and spatial resolution for the sensitive PA imaging of tumors. HSA-ICG could be useful as a favorable contrast agent for PA tumor imaging for the management of cancer.