The causes and effects of neuronal degeneration are of major interest to a wide variety of neuroscientists. Paralleling this growing interest is an increasing number of methods applicable to the detection of neuronal degeneration. The earliest methods employing aniline dyes were methodologically simple, but difficult to interpret due to a lack of staining specificity. In an attempt to circumvent this problem, numerous suppressed silver methods have been introduced. However, these methods are labor intensive, incompatible with most other histochemical procedures and notoriously capricious. In an attempt to develop a tracer with the methodological simplicity and reliability of conventional stains but with the specificity of an ideal suppressed silver preparation, the Fluoro-Jade dyes were developed. Fluoro-Jade C, like its predecessors, Fluoro-Jade and Fluoro-Jade B, was found to stain all degenerating neurons, regardless of specific insult or mechanism of cell death. Therefore, the patterns of neuronal degeneration seen following exposure to either the glutamate agonist, kainic acid, or the inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration, 3-NPA, were the same for all of the Fluoro-Jade dyes. However, there was a qualitative difference in the staining characteristics of the three fluorochromes. Specifically, Fluoro-Jade C exhibited the greatest signal to background ratio, as well as the highest resolution. This translates to a stain of maximal contrast and affinity for degenerating neurons. This makes it ideal for localizing not only degenerating nerve cell bodies, but also distal dendrites, axons and terminals. The dye is highly resistant to fading and is compatible with virtually all histological processing and staining protocols. Triple labeling was accomplished by staining degenerating neurons with Fluoro-Jade C, cell nuclei with DAPI and activated astrocytes with GFAP immunofluoresence.