Iatrogenic injury of the ureters is a feared complication of abdominal surgery. Zwitterionic near-infrared fluorophores are molecules with geometrically-balanced, electrically-neutral surface charge, which leads to renal-exclusive clearance and ultralow non-specific background binding. Such molecules could solve the ureter mapping problem by providing real-time anatomic and functional imaging, even through intact peritoneum. Here we present the first-in-human experience of this chemical class, as well as the efficacy study in patients undergoing laparoscopic abdominopelvic surgery. The zwitterionic near-infrared fluorophore ZW800-1 is safe, has pharmacokinetic properties consistent with an ideal blood pool agent, and rapid elimination into urine after a single low-dose intravenous injection. Visualization of structure and function of the ureters starts within minutes after ZW800-1 injection and lasts several hours. Zwitterionic near-infrared fluorophores add value during laparoscopic abdominopelvic surgeries and could potentially decrease iatrogenic urethral injury. Moreover, ZW800-1 is engineered for one-step covalent conjugatability, creating possibilities for developing novel targeted ligands.