Exogenous provision of ALA to many tissues results in the accumulation of sufficient quantities of the endogenous photosensitizer protoporphyrin IX, (PpIX), to produce a photodynamic effect. Therefore, ALA may be considered the only current PDT agent in clinical development which is a biochemical precursor of a photosensitizer. Topical ALA application, followed by exposure to activating light (ALA PDT), has been reported effective for the treatment of a variety of dermatologic diseases including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, superficial basal cell carcinoma, Bowen's disease, and actinic (solar) keratoses, and is also being examined for treatment of acne and hirsutism. PpIX induced by ALA application also may serve as a fluorescence detection marker for photodiagnosis (PD) of malignant and pre- malignant conditions of the urinary bladder and other organs. Local internal application of ALA has also been used for selective endometrial ablation in animal model systems and is beginning to be examined in human clinical studies. Systemic, oral administration of ALA has been used for ALA PDT of superficial head and neck cancer, various gastrointestinal cancers, and the condition known as Barrett's esophagus. This brief paper reviews the current clinical and development status of ALA PDT.