We have investigated the possibilities and limitations of the application of ultrasound modulated coherent light to obtain quantitative information of local absorbers in light-scattering objects, among which tissue. For all objects studied, the combined use of microsecond ultrasound and light pulses enabled us to construct a 3D map of local absorbers with a spatial resolution of ∼2 mm. Moreover, in relatively homogeneous model systems, mimicking a blood vessel embedded in tissue, the use of a calibration procedure allowed for a determination of the local absorbance. Speckle decorrelation times for real tissue containing blood vessels, in which appreciable motion of scatterers can exist, were found to be smaller than 1ms. These relatively short times present a major challenge for acousto-optics to be applied in living tissue systems.