The study of primary photobiological processes on the basis of structure-activity relationship is important for a better understanding of drug phototoxicity. An ideal approach for the understanding of the phototoxic response is provided by the study of drugs purposely used in photochemotherapeuties for which the determination of primary photochemical targets is a prerequisite for the investigation of the phototherapeutic action. For instance, in the so-called 'photodynamic therapy' of cancers, the photodynamic properties of porphyrins more or less specifically localized in tumors are responsible for their photocytotoxicity. Microfluorometry and particularly microspectrofluorometry are powerful non invasive techniques for carrying out quantitative photobiological investigations in real time in single living cells. This approach allows one to monitor the drug localization, to follow the drug fate, and to study photosensitized events in living cells. We illustrate some aspects of such investigations with photofrin II, a mixture of porphyrins currently used in phase III clinical trials, and other porphyrins including protoporphyrin which is encountered in genetic and drug-induced cutaneous porphyrias. To demonstrate the usefulness of microspectrofluorometry in such studies, we present data on the photosensitizer localization, on the photosensitizer photobleaching, and on structural or functional photosensitized damage to organelles.