The presently available devices for the illumination, changing of wavelengths, and detection of the resultant fluorescence of biological samples viewed in the light microscope have been described and compared. The optimal choice for illumination is a xenon arc lamp with a filter wheel wavelength selector. The optimal choice for an imaging detector is an intensified CCD (charge-coupled-device) camera. These combinations produce the most rapid, stable, and reproducible results when fluorescence measurements are made on living epithelial cells or isolated renal tubules. Techniques for the simultaneous acquisition of fluorescence and differential interference contrast (DIC) images have also been described and compared.