The time courses of oxyhaemoglobin ([HbO2]), deoxyhaemoglobin ([HbR]) and total haemoglobin ([HbT]) concentration changes following cortical activation in rats by electrical forepaw stimulation were measured using diffuse optical tomography (DOT) and compared to similar measurements performed previously with fMRI at 2.0 T and 4.7 T. We also explored the qualitative effects of varying stimulus parameters on the temporal evolution of the hemodynamic response. DOT images were reconstructed at a depth of 1.5 mm over a 1 cm square area from 2 mm anterior to bregma to 8 mm posterior to bregma. The measurement set included 9 sources and 16 detectors with an imaging frame rate of 10 Hz. Both DOT [HbR] and [HbO2] time courses were compared to the fMRI BOLD time course during stimulation, and the DOT [HbT] time course was compared to the fMRI cerebral plasma volume (CPV) time course. We believe that DOT and fMRI can provide similar temporal information for both blood volume and deoxyhaemoglobin changes, which helps to cross-validate these two techniques and to demonstrate that DOT can be useful as a complementary modality to fMRI for investigating the hemodynamic response to neuronal activity.