A novel Zn2+-selective visible wavelength fluoroionophore (FluoZin-3, 9) was synthesized. The chelating portion of the molecule resembles known EGTA-based Ca2+-selective fluoroionophores, except that one of the N-acetic acid moieties has been deleted in 9. FluoZin-3 is virtually non-fluorescent in the absence of Zn2+, and exhibits a several hundred-fold fluorescence increase upon saturation with Zn2+( approximately 100 nM), with a Kd = 15 +/- 2 nM. A 1:1 binding stoichiometry of 9:Zn2+ was determined, and the fluorescence of the complex is pH-independent at pH > 6. FluoZin-3 was used to monitor Zn2+ that was co-secreted with insulin from pancreatic beta-cells by exocytosis following stimulation with glucose. The total Zn2+ concentration near the cells reached 600 nM, and Zn2+ was detectable at least 15 mum away from secreting cells. Heterogeneity in secretion among cells was indicated in that some cells in a cluster did not release Zn2+. Also, within secreting cells some regions of the cell membrane gave rise to secretion while others did not, suggesting active zones of secretion on the cell surface.