Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) is important in tumorigenesis, angiogenesis and tumor invasion. In this study, we investigated if the Cy5-tagged small immuno protein targeting the catalytic domain of human MMP2 (aMMP2-SIP) detects MMP2 in tumors non-invasively. For this purpose, we generated MMP2 expressing (empty vector EV) and knock-down (KD) HT1080, U373 and U87 cells, which were injected subcutaneously in the lateral flank of NMRI-nu mice. Optical imaging (Optix MX2) performed at 0.5, 2, 4, 8, 24 and 48 hour post injection (h.p.i.) of Cy5 tagged aMMP2-SIP, indicated significantly lower tumor to background ratios at both 24 (P = 0.0090) and 48 h.p.i. (P <0.0001) for the U87 MMP2-KD compared to control tumors. No differences were found for HT1080 and U373 models. U87 MMP2-KD tumors had significantly lower MMP2 activity (P <0.0001) than EV tumors as determined by gelatin zymography in tumor sections and lysates, while no differences were observed between EV and MMP2-KD in HT1080 and U373. In line with these data, only U87 MMP2-KD tumors had a reduced tumor growth compared to control tumors (P = 0.0053). aMMP2-SIP uptake correlates with MMP2 activity and might therefore be a potential non-invasive imaging biomarker for the evaluation of MMP2 activity in tumors.