Optogenetics is a widely used technology with potential for translational research. A critical component of such applications is the ability to track the location of the transduced opsin in vivo. To address this problem, we engineered an excitatory opsin, ChRERα (hChR2(134R)-V5-ERα-LBD), that could be visualized using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in a noninvasive, longitudinal, and quantitative manner. ChRERα consists of the prototypical excitatory opsin channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) and the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the human estrogen receptor α (ERα). ChRERα showed conserved ChR2 functionality and high affinity for [18F]16α-fluoroes-tradiol (FES), an FDA-approved PET radiopharmaceutical. Experiments in rats demonstrated that adeno-associated virus (AAV)–mediated expression of ChRERα enables neural circuit manipulation in vivo and that ChRERα expression could be monitored using FES-PET imaging. In vivo experiments in nonhuman primates (NHPs) confirmed that ChRERα expression could be monitored at the site of AAV injection in the primary motor cortex and in long-range neuronal terminals for up to 80 weeks. The anatomical connectivity map of the primary motor cortex identified by FES-PET imaging of ChRERα expression overlapped with a functional connectivity map identified using resting state fMRI in a separate cohort of NHPs. Overall, our results demonstrate that ChRERα expression can be mapped longitudinally in the mammalian brain using FES-PET imaging and can be used for neural circuit modulation in vivo.