- Singlet oxygen (1O2) is believed to be the major cytotoxic agent involved in photodynamic therapy (PDT). Measurement of 1O2 near-infrared (NIR) luminescence at 1270 nm in biological environments is confounded by the strongly reduced 1O2 lifetime and probably has never been achieved. We present evidence that this is now possible, using a new NIR-sensitive photomultiplier tube. Time-resolved 1O2 luminescence measurements were made in various solutions of aluminum tetrasulphonated phthalocyanine (AlS4Pc) and Photofrin. Measurements were also performed on suspensions of leukemia cells incubated with AlS4Pc, and a true intracellular component of the 1O2 signal was clearly identified. Time-resolved analysis showed a strongly reduced 1O2 lifetime and an increased photosensitizer triplet-state lifetime in the intracellular component. In vivo measurements were performed on normal skin and liver of Wistar rats sensitized with 50 mg/kg AlS4Pc. In each case, a small but statistically significant spectral peak was observed at 1270 nm. The 1O2 lifetime based on photon count rate measurements at 1270 nm was 0.03-0.18 micros, consistent with published upper limits. We believe that these are the first direct observations of PDT-generated intracellular and in vivo 102. The detector technology provides a new tool for PDT research and possibly clinical use.