Assays which discriminate and enumerate dying or dead cells are important in various types of cellular studies. In many instances, there is a need to identify dead cells that interfere with fluorescent probes which are used to measure functional and physiological properties in viable cells. For example, dead cells can introduce analytical errors arising from (1) nonspecific uptake of fluorescent probes, leading to erroneous percentages of positive labeled cells, (2) increased autofluorescence, and (3) altered antigen expression. The ability to detect dead cells is also of importance in determining the effectiveness of cytotoxic agents. Propidium iodide (PPI) exclusion, which is analogous to the non- fluorescent trypan blue dye test for viability, is used extensively in flow cytometry assays. However, the use of PI can potentially limit the application of additional fluorescent probes due to spectral overlap of the probe with PI. In this report we present phase-resolved fluorescence studies on rat and murine thymus cells labeled with phycoerythrin-antiThy 1.1 and phycoerythrin/Texas Red-antiThy 1.2 immunofluorescence markers, respectively, and PI. Overlapping emission spectra are resolved based on differences in fluorescence lifetimes of the probes and PI. These studies demonstrate a new lifetime-based viability method for use in analysis of immunofluorescent probes and for assaying the dynamics of cell killing.