In studies of phagocytosis and its consequences for cell activation, it is important to distinguish those particulate stimuli which are completely ingested and internalized from those which are only attached to phagocytic surfaces. Ingestion can be profoundly influenced by both the type of opsonins on the surface of the stimulus and the expression and activation of receptors on the phagocytes for these opsonins. We report a new fluorescent assay which facilitates rapid and reproducible quantitation of attached versus fully internalized live or dead yeast particles by phagocytes. The assay employs the fluorescent dye diaethanol (Uvitex 2B) which stains chitin on the cell wall of fungi and is excluded from live phagocytes. The diaethanol assay and a standard, previously published methylene blue dye exclusion assay yielded comparable results using human neutrophils or monocytes incubated with heat-killed, serum-opsonized Candida albicans. The diaethanol assay proved useful in distinguishing differences in effects of various opsonins, as human neutrophils selectively opsonized with either pooled human serum (PHS), IgG (heat-inactivated PHS) or complement (IgG-depleted PHS) completely internalized 69.5%, 91.3% and 52.5% of cell-associated zymosan particles respectively. Finally, the new assay permitted comparisons of differing macrophage populations, as resident murine peritoneal macrophages internalized only 10.6% of complement-opsonized, cell-associated zymosan particles compared with 41.7% when the macrophages were elicited with thioglycolate. The assay should prove useful to investigators studying both fungal phagocytosis and killing, as well as to those performing general studies of receptor expression, regulation and function.