Background Non-invasive planar fluorescence reflectance imaging (FRI) is used for accessing physiological and molecular processes in biological tissue. This method is efficiently used to detect superficial fluorescent inclusions. FRI is based on recording the spatial radiance distribution (SRD) at the surface of a sample. SRD provides information for measuring structural parameters of a fluorescent source (such as radius and depth). The aim of this article is to estimate the depth and radius of the source distribution from SRD, measured at the sample surface. For this reason, a theoretical expression for the SRD at the surface of a turbid sample arising from a spherical light source embedded in the sample, was derived using a steady-state solution of the diffusion equation with an appropriate boundary condition. Methods The SRD was approximated by solving the diffusion equation in an infinite homogeneous medium with solid spherical sources in cylindrical geometry. Theoretical predications were verified by experiments with fluorescent sources of radius 2-6 mm embedded at depths of 2-4 mm in a tissue-like phantom. Results The experimental data were compared with the theoretical values which shows that the root mean square (RMS) error in depth measurement for nominal depth values d = 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4 mm amounted to 17%, 5%, 2%, 1% and 5% respectively. Therefore, the average error in depth estimation was ≤ 4% for depths larger than the photon mean free path. Conclusions An algorithm is proposed that allows estimation of the location and radius of a spherical source in a homogeneous tissue-like phantom by accounting for anisotropic light scattering effect using FRI modality. Surface SRD measurement enabled accurate estimates of fluorescent depth and radius in FRI modality, and can be used as an element of a more general tomography reconstruction algorithm.