Abstract Pyridinium chloride (PC) is examined as a selective, fluorescence quenching agent for alternant as opposed to nonalternant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in two polar solvents — water and acetonitrile. Nine alternant and 13 nonalternant PAHs were dissolved in water and acetonitrile and a total of 0.2 M of pyridinium chloride was added. The resulting change in fluorescence intensity was observed and reported as the Stern–Volmer quenching constant. Results show that PC is a selective quencher in both polar solvents. It selectively quenches the fluorescence emission intensity of alternant PAHs while leaving the nonalternant PAH fluorescence emission virtually unchanged. These results agree with the selective quenching behavior seen for PC surfactant analogs, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and dodecylpyridinium chloride (DDPC). Furthermore, these results illustrate that the presence of a surfactant or micelle is not a requirement for selective quenching. The selective quencher PC is applicable to situations where a surfactant is not desirable or soluble.