Nanoparticles activated by near-infrared (NIR) excitation provide a capability for optical imaging and photodestruction of tumors. We have engineered optical nanoconstructs derived from erythrocytes, which are doped with the FDA-approved NIR dye, indocyanine green (ICG). We refer to these constructs as NIR erythrocyte-mimicking transducers (NETs). Herein, we investigate the phototheranostic capabilities of NETs for fluorescence imaging and photodestruction of SKBR3 breast cancer cells and subcutaneous xenograft tumors in mice. Our cellular studies demonstrate that NETs are internalized by these cancer cells and localized to their lysosomes. As evidenced by NIR fluorescence imaging and in vivo laser irradiation studies, NETs remain available within tumors at 24 h postintravenous injection. In response to continuous wave 808 nm laser irradiation at intensity of 680 mW/cm2 for 10-15 min, NETs mediate the destruction of cancer cells and tumors in mice through synergistic photochemical and photothermal effects. We demonstrate that NETs are effective in mediating photoactivation of Caspase-3 to induce tumor apoptosis. Our results provide support for the effectiveness of NETs as theranostic agents for fluorescence imaging and photodestruction of tumors and their role in photoinduced apoptosis initiated by their localization to lysosomes. © 2018 American Chemical Society.