Light is widely used in life science in both controlling and observing biological processes, yet a long-standing challenge of using light inside the tissue lies in the limited penetration depth of visible light. In the past decade, many in vivo light delivery methods using photonics and materials science tools have been developed, with recent demonstrations of non-invasive, deep-tissue light sources based on systemically delivered luminescent nanomaterials. In this perspective, we provide an overview for the principles of intravital nanoscopic light sources and discuss their advantages over existing methods for in vivo light delivery. We then highlight their recent applications in optogenetics neuromodulation and fluorescent imaging in live animals. We also present an outlook section about the feasibility of combining these non-invasive light sources with other modalities to expand the utilities of light in biology.