A new flow cytometric technique, involving differential fluorescence analysis of two DNA-binding fluorochromes, was used to quantify cellular incorporation of the base analog, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), into DNA over short time periods. During analysis of stained cells, the blue fluorescence signal of Hoechst 33342, which is quenched by BrdU-substituted DNA, was subtracted, on a cell by cell basis, from the green-yellow fluorescence signal of mithramycin, which remained stoichiometric to cellular DNA content. Bivariate contour profiles obtained for CHO cells pulse-labeled for 30 min showed that fluorescence quenching of Hoechst 33342 in BrdU-labeled, S phase cells produced fluorescence difference signals that were significantly greater than the difference signals from G1 and G2 + M phase cells. Analysis of L1210 cells demonstrated that the amount of BrdU detected was proportional to the length of the labeling period. The novel technique is simple, rapid, and mild; it produces minimal cell loss and does not significantly affect cellular moieties such as DNA, chromatin, or RNA.