A new family of highly fluorescent indicators has been synthesized for biochemical studies of the physiological role of cytosolic free Ca2+. The compounds combine an 8-coordinate tetracarboxylate chelating site with stilbene chromophores. Incorporation of the ethylenic linkage of the stilbene into a heterocyclic ring enhances the quantum efficiency and photochemical stability of the fluorophore. Compared to their widely used predecessor, "quin2", the new dyes offer up to 30-fold brighter fluorescence, major changes in wavelength not just intensity upon Ca2+ binding, slightly lower affinities for Ca2+, slightly longer wavelengths of excitation, and considerably improved selectivity for Ca2+ over other divalent cations. These properties, particularly the wavelength sensitivity to Ca2+, should make these dyes the preferred fluorescent indicators for many intracellular applications, especially in single cells, adherent cell layers, or bulk tissues.