Separation of the endocrine from the exocrine pancreatic tissue by fluorescence activated sorting has been limited by the lack of an ideal fluorescent label for islet tissue. Our studies indicates the zinc-specific stain N-(6-methoxy-8-quinolyl)-para-toluenesulfonamide (TSQ), has characteristics ideal for use as a fluorescent label for islet tissue. Dispersed rat pancreas cells stained with TSQ produced bright blue fluorescence when excited by UV light (peak emission wavelength at 480 nm, maximal excitation at 365 nm). The fluorescence was specific for islet tissue as confirmed by counterstaining with the islet-specific stain dithizone and there was minimal background staining of exocrine tissue. Stained tissue remained brightly fluorescent for 2 hr, with some fading by 4 hr. Injection of TSQ into rats at a concentration sufficient to produce staining of islets produced no toxicity discernible at 4 months. The viability of isolated rat islets stained with TSQ was maintained as shown by supravital staining, in vitro secretion of insulin, and reversal of diabetes after transplantation of stained islets into diabetic syngeneic recipients.