Abstract The photophysical properties of pyronin B (PyB) and pyronin Y (PyY) in reverse micelles formed with water/sodium bis (2-ethyl-1-hexyl) sulfosuccinate (AOT)/n-heptane were investigated by UV–vis absorption, steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy techniques. This study was carried out a wide range of reverse micelle sizes, with hydrodynamic radii ranging from 1.85 to 9.38nm. Significant photophysical parameters as band shifts, fluorescence quantum yields and fluorescence lifetimes were determined to understand how photophysical and spectroscopic features of the dye compounds were affected by the variation of reverse micelle sizes. In this regard, control of reverse micelle size by changing W0, the molar ratio of water to surfactant, allowed tuning the photophysical properties of the dyes in organic solvent via reverse micelle. Non-fluorescent H-aggregates of pyronin dyes were observed for the smaller reverse micelles whereas an increase in the reverse micelle size induced an increment in the amount of dye monomers instead of dye aggregates. Thus, the fluorescence intensities of the dyes were improved by increasing W0 due to the predomination of the fluorescent dye monomers. As a result, the fluorescence quantum yields also increased. The fluorescence lifetimes of the dyes in the reverse micelles were determined by the time-resolved fluorescence decay studies. Evaluation of the fluorescence lifetimes calculated for pyronin dyes in the reverse micelles showed that the size of reverse micelle affected the fluorescence lifetimes of pyronin dyes.