The variable location and indistinct features of parathyroid glands can make their intraoperative identification challenging. Currently, there exists no routine use of localization methods during surgery. Dynamic optical contrast imaging (DOCI) leverages a novel realization of temporally dependent measurements of tissue autofluorescence that allows the acquisition of specific tissue properties. A prospective series of patients with primary hyperparathyroidism was examined. Parathyroid lesions and surrounding tissues were collected; fluorescence decay images were acquired via DOCI. Ex vivo samples (81 patients) were processed for histologic assessment. DOCI extracts relative fluorescence decay information in a surgically relevant field of view with a clinically accessible acquisition time <2 minutes. Analysis of DOCI revealed microscopic characterization sufficient for tissue type identification consistent with histology (P < .05). DOCI is capable of efficiently distinguishing parathyroid tissue from adjacent tissues. Such an intraoperative tool would be transformative, helping surgeons to identify lesions, preserve healthy tissue, and improve patient outcomes.