We have developed an assay to detect reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by UVA radiation utilising chemical probes which become fluorescent upon oxidation. Using a human bladder carcinoma cell line (MGH-U1) and spontaneously immortalised keratinocytes (HaCaT), we have shown a UVA (narrow band 365+/-5 nm) dose-dependent increase in fluorescence by flow cytometry following loading of the cells with either dihydrorhodamine 123 (DHR) or 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFH-DA). The UVA response of both DHR and DCFH was enhanced by elevation of intracellular levels of the photosensitiser protoporphyrin IX by incubation for 2.5 h with 5-aminolaevulinic acid. Depletion of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) using the inhibitor D,L-buthionine-sulphoximine (BSO), resulted in an increase in the UVA-induced fluorescence of DCF but not of rhodamine 123. Conversely, raising intracellular GSH levels with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) had relatively little protective effect in terms of degree of induced fluorescence.