A computer-aided design of novel D-pi-A-pi-D styrylamines containing five isomeric benzobisthiazole moieties as the electron-accepting core has revealed the linear centrosymmetric benzo[1,2-d:4,5-d']bisthiazole as the most promising building block for engineering chromophores displaying high two-photon absorption (TPA) in the near-IR region, as also confirmed experimentally. The ease of synthesis of quadrupolar derivatives thereof, combined with extraordinarly high TPA action cross sections (delta(TPA)Phi(f) > 1500 GM), makes these heteroaromatic systems particularly attractive as diagnostic agents in 3D fluorescence imaging.