Converging advances in the development of nanoparticle-based imaging probes and improved understanding of the molecular biology of brain tumors offer the potential to provide physicians with new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of these deadly diseases. However, the effectiveness of promising nanoparticle technologies is currently limited by insufficient accumulation of these contrast agents within tumors. Here a biocompatible nanoprobe composed of a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) coated iron oxide nanoparticle that is capable of specifically targeting glioma tumors via the surface-bound targeting peptide, chlorotoxin (CTX), is presented. The preferential accumulation of the nanoprobe within gliomas and subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement are demonstrated in vitro in 9L cells and in vivo in tumors of a xenograft mouse model. TEM imaging reveals that the nanoprobes are internalized into the cytoplasm of 9L cells and histological analysis of selected tissues indicates that there are no acute toxic effects of these nanoprobes. High targeting specificity and benign biological response establish this nanoprobe as a potential platform to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of gliomas and other tumors of neuroectodermal origin.