Focussed radiosurgery may provide a means of inducing molecular changes on the luminal surface of diseased endothelium to allow targeted delivery of novel therapeutic compounds. We investigated the potential of ionizing radiation to induce surface expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) on endothelial cells (EC) in vitro and in vivo, to assess their suitability as vascular targets in irradiated arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Cultured brain microvascular EC were irradiated by linear accelerator at single doses of 0, 5, 15 or 25 Gy and expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 measured by qRT-PCR, Western, ELISA and immunocytochemistry. In vivo, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence optical imaging using Xenolight 750-conjugated ICAM-1 or VCAM-1 antibodies examined luminal biodistribution over 84 days in a rat AVM model after Gamma Knife surgery at a single 15 Gy dose. ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 were minimally expressed on untreated EC in vitro. Doses of 15 and 25 Gy stimulated expression equally; 5 Gy was not different from the unirradiated. In vivo, normal vessels did not bind or retain the fluorescent probes, however binding was significant in AVM vessels. No additive increases in probe binding were found in response to radiosurgery at a dose of 15 Gy. In summary, radiation induces adhesion molecule expression in vitro but elevated baseline levels in AVM vessels precludes further induction in vivo. These molecules may be suitable targets in irradiated vessels without hemodynamic derangement, but not AVMs. These findings demonstrate the importance of using flow-modulated, pre-clinical animal models for validating candidate proteins for vascular targeting in irradiated AVMs.