A noncontact optical detector for in vivo imaging has been developed that is compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The optical detector employs microlens arrays and might be classified as a plenoptic camera. As a resulting of its design, the detector possesses a slim thickness and is self-shielding against radio frequency (RF) pulses. For experimental investigation, a total of six optical detectors were arranged in a cylindrical fashion, with the imaged object positioned in the center of this assembly. A purposely designed RF volume resonator coil has been developed and is incorporated within the optical imaging system. The whole assembly was placed into the bore of a 1.5 T patient-sized MRI scanner. Simple-geometry phantom studies were performed to assess compatibility and performance characteristics regarding both optical and MR imaging systems. A bimodal ex vivo nude mouse measurement was conducted. From the MRI data, the subject surface was extracted. Optical images were projected on this surface by means of an inverse mapping algorithm. Simultaneous measurements did not reveal influences from the magnetic field and RF pulses onto optical detector performance (spatial resolution, sensitivity). No significant influence of the optical imaging system onto MRI performance was detectable.