Subcellular localization of multiple biochemical markers is readily achieved through their characteristic autofluorescence or through use of appropriately labelled antibodies. Recent development of specific probes has permitted elegant studies in calcium and pH in living cells. However, each of these methods measured fluorescence at one wavelength; precise quantitation of multiple fluorophores at individual sites within a cell has not been possible. Using DIFM, we have achieved spectral analysis of discrete subcellular particles 1-2 gm in diameter. The fluorescence emission is broken into narrow bands by an interference monochromator and visualized through the combined use of a silicon intensified target (SIT) camera, a microcomputer based framegrabber with 8 bit resolution, and a color video monitor. Image acquisition, processing, analysis and display are under software control. The digitized image can be corrected for the spectral distortions induced by the wavelength dependent sensitivity of the camera, and the displayed image can be enhanced or presented in pseudocolor to facilitate discrimination of variation in pixel intensity of individual particles. For rapid comparison of the fluorophore composition of granules, a ratio image is produced by dividing the image captured at one wavelength by that captured at another. In the resultant ratio image, a granule which has a fluorophore composition different from the majority is selectively colored. This powerful system has been utilized to obtain spectra of endogenous autofluorescent compounds in discrete cellular organelles of human retinal pigment epithelium, and to measure immunohistochemically labelled components of the extracellular matrix associated with the human optic nerve.