Esterases (EC 3.1.1.x) represent a diverse group of hydrolases catalyzing the cleavage and formation of carboxyl ester bonds. Their connection with development has made them a suitable marker of development in plants. In the present work, we focused on the fluorimetric determination of the plant esterases in plant cell cultures (tobacco BY-2 cells and early somatic embryos of Norway spruce, clone 2/32) with respect to application the method for the study of programmed cell death and the influence of cadmium(II) ions on the plant cells. The programmed cell death has been triggered by sodium nitroprusside and glucose oxidase. The determination of the esterase activity by the proposed technique in a cell extract determined very small difference in enzyme activity, which was a reliable marker of metabolic changes. In addition, the esterase activity of spruce somatic embryos decreased with the increase in medium Cd concentration.