Transitions between bright and dark fluorescent states of several rhodamine dyes were investigated by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. We resolved two sub-diffusion exponential decays for free rhodamines in aqueous solutions, of which the slower component scales linearly with the viscosity of the solution. Correlation data for proteins and DNA labeled with tetramethylrhodamine were fitted with three to four exponential decays describing flickering dynamics on a time scale between 0.5 and 100 μs. We investigated the nature of these processes by performing experiments under different experimental conditions and for different samples. On the basis of how their population and lifetime change with viscosity, the oxygen content of the solution, the laser irradiance, and the detection geometry, we assigned these states, in the order of increasing lifetimes, to a triplet state, a hybrid between twisted-intramolecular-charge-transfer state and a ground state lactonic state, a lactonic state, and a photoionized state, respectively. Our data suggests that none of the observed sub-diffusion correlation decays can be directly assigned to the intramolecular dynamics of the labeled biomolecules. However, we found evidence that the intrinsic conformational dynamics of the biomolecule appears in the correlation curves as a modulation of the photophysics of the dye label. This shows the importance of accurate control measurements and appropriate modeling of the dye photophysics in fluorescence correlation studies, and it cautions against direct assignments of dark-state relaxation times to folding kinetics in proteins and nucleic acids.