Treatment of Physarum histone with iodoacetoxypyrene selectively derivatizes a single H3 cysteine with acetoxypyrene. Microplasmodia can incorporate this AP-H3 into nucleosomes. The distinction between blue monomeric pyrene fluorescence and green excimer pyrene fluorescence allows detection of changes in distance between the closely positioned H3 cysteines in nucleosomes. Fluorescence of nucleosomes labeled in vivo with AP-H3 is almost exclusively of the excimer form, indicating that H3 cysteines are within a few angstroms of each other in the nucleosome core. In histones recovered from these nucleosomes all detectable pyrene is covalently bound to H3. When Physarum is exposed sequentially to labeled followed by unlabeled histone, there is a rapid appearance of green excimer emission in nucleosomes after addition of labeled histone and no apparent switch from excimer to monomer fluorescence after several replications of the genome in the presence of unlabeled histone. These experiments provide evidence in favor of a model for conservative distribution of nucleosomal histones during chromatin replication.