PURPOSE: ABY-029, a synthetic Affibody peptide, Z03115-Cys, labeled with a near-infrared fluorophore, IRDye® 800CW, targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been produced under good manufacturing practices for a US Food and Drug Administration-approved first-in-use human study during surgical resection of glioma, as well as other tumors. Here, the pharmacology, phototoxicity, receptor activity, and biodistribution studies of ABY-029 were completed in rats, prior to the intended human use. PROCEDURES: Male and female Sprague Dawley rats were administered a single intravenous dose of varying concentrations (0, 245, 2449, and 24,490 μg/kg corresponding to 10×, 100×, and 1000× an equivalent human microdose level) of ABY-029 and observed for up to 14 days. Histopathological assessment of organs and tissues, clinical chemistry, and hematology were performed. In addition, pharmacokinetic clearance and biodistribution of ABY-029 were studied in subgroups of the animals. Phototoxicity and ABY-029 binding to human and rat EGFR were assessed in cell culture and on immobilized receptors, respectively. RESULTS: Histopathological assessment and hematological and clinical chemistry analysis demonstrated that single-dose ABY-029 produced no pathological evidence of toxicity at any dose level. No phototoxicity was observed in EGFR-positive and EGFR-negative glioma cell lines. Binding strength and pharmacokinetics of the anti-EGFR Affibody molecules were retained after labeling with the dye. CONCLUSION: Based on the successful safety profile of ABY-029, the 1000× human microdose 24.5 mg/kg was identified as the no observed adverse effect level following intravenous administration. Conserved binding strength and no observed light toxicity also demonstrated ABY-029 safety for human use.