Absorbance spectroscopy of intrinsic cardiac chromophores provides nondestructive assessment of cytosolic oxygenation and mitochondria redox state. Isolated perfused heart spectroscopy is usually conducted by collecting reflected light from the heart surface, which represents a combination of surface scattering events and light that traversed portions of the myocardium. Reflectance spectroscopy with complex surface scattering effects in the beating heart leads to difficulty in quantitating chromophore absorbance. In this study, surface scattering was minimized and transmural path length optimized by placing a light source within the left ventricular chamber while monitoring transmurally transmitted light at the epicardial surface. The custom-designed intrachamber light catheter was a flexible coaxial cable (2.42-Fr) terminated with an encapsulated side-firing LED of 1.8 × 0.8 mm, altogether similar in size to a Millar pressure catheter. The LED catheter had minimal impact on aortic flow and heart rate in Langendorff perfusion and did not impact stability of the left ventricule of the working heart. Changes in transmural absorbance spectra were deconvoluted using a library of chromophore reference spectra to quantify the relative contribution of specific chromophores to the changes in measured absorbance. This broad-band spectral deconvolution approach eliminated errors that may result from simple dual-wavelength absorbance intensity. The myoglobin oxygenation level was only 82.2 ± 3.0%, whereas cytochrome c and cytochrome a + a3 were 13.3 ± 1.4% and 12.6 ± 2.2% reduced, respectively, in the Langendorff-perfused heart. The intracardiac illumination strategy permits transmural optical absorbance spectroscopy in perfused hearts, which provides a noninvasive real-time monitor of cytosolic oxygenation and mitochondria redox state.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Here, a novel nondestructive real-time approach for monitoring intrinsic indicators of cardiac metabolism and oxygenation is described using a catheter-based transillumination of the left ventricular free wall together with complete spectral analysis of transmitted light. This approach is a significant improvement in the quality of cardiac optical absorbance spectroscopic metabolic analyses.