Steady state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy were employed to study the fluorescence from non-metastatic, metastatic and non-tumorigenic cell lines from different species. Excitations at 310 nm and 350 nm were used to monitor tryptophan and reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) fluorescence respectively. Subtle and consistent differences were observed between different categories of cell lines. It was found that the tryptophan to NADH fluorescence intensity ratio is higher in metastatic cell lines than in non-metastatic and normal cell lines. The fluorescence decay of the tryptophan residue in different cell lines was best described by triple exponential kinetics, whereas the NADH fluorescence decay was best described by mainly double and, in some cases, triple exponential kinetics. The average fluorescence lifetimes for tryptophan were in the range 2.5-3.7 ns. The average lifetime of NADH was lower (by a factor of approximately three) in metastatic cells than in non-metastatic cells and this finding is consistent for cell lines from different origins (rat or human). Correcting the fluorescence intensity for the average fluorescence lifetime of each species and for the volume of each cell line, it was shown that the concentrations of tryptophan and NADH are consistently higher in malignant metastatic cancer cells than in non-metastatic cells.