A novel functional imaging system for use in the imaging of unrestrained and non-anesthetized small animals or other subjects and a method for acquiring such images and further registering them with anatomical X-ray images previously or subsequently acquired. The apparatus comprises a combination of an IR laser profilometry system and gamma, PET and/or SPECT, imaging system, all mounted on a rotating gantry, that permits simultaneous acquisition of positional and orientational information and functional images of an unrestrained subject that are registered, i.e. integrated, using image processing software to produce a functional image of the subject without the use of restraints or anesthesia. The functional image thus obtained can be registered with a previously or subsequently obtained X-ray CT image of the subject. The use of the system described herein permits functional imaging of a subject in an unrestrained/non-anesthetized condition thereby reducing the stress on the subject and eliminating any potential interference with the functional testing that such stress might induce.