Colony growth of three Fusarium spp. on potato dextrose agar was followed by collecting near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral images of the colonies at regular intervals after inoculation up to 55 h. After principal component analysis (PCA), two clusters were apparent in the score plot along principal component 1. Using the brushing technique, these clusters were divided into four groups of pixels with similar score values. These could be visualised as growth zones within the colonies in the corresponding score image. Three spectral bands, i.e. 1,166, 1,380 and 1,918 nm, were prominent in the multiplicative scatter corrected and Savitzky-Golay second derivative spectra. These indicated chemical changes, associated with carbohydrates (1,166 and 1,380 nm) and protein (1,918 nm), that occurred as the mycelium grew and matured. The protein band was more prominent in the mature fungal material while the carbohydrate band was less pronounced. The younger material and the agar were characterised by the carbohydrate spectral band. Integrating whole mycelium colonies as the sum of pixels over time made it possible to construct curves that resembled growth curves; this included the lag phase, active growth phase, deceleration phase and phase of constant growth. Growth profiles constructed from individual growth zones indicated more detailed growth characteristics. The use of NIR hyperspectral imaging and multivariate image analysis (MIA) allowed one to visualise radial growth rings in the PCA score images. This would not have been possible with bulk spectroscopy. Interpreting spectral data enabled better understanding of microbial growth characteristics on agar medium. NIR hyperspectral imaging combined with MIA is a powerful tool for the evaluation of growth characteristics of fungi.