Dictyostelium discoideum is used extensively as a model organism for the study of chemotaxis. In recent years, an increasing number of studies of Dictyostelium chemotaxis have made use of fluorescence-based techniques. One of the major factors that can interfere with the application of these techniques in cells is the cellular autofluorescence. In this study, the spectral properties of Dictyostelium autofluorescence have been characterized using fluorescence microscopy. Whole cell autofluorescence spectra obtained using spectral imaging microscopy show that Dictyostelium autofluorescence covers a wavelength range from ∼500 to 650 nm with a maximum at ∼510 nm, and thus, potentially interferes with measurements of green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion proteins with fluorescence microscopy techniques. Further characterization of the spatial distribution, intensity, and brightness of the autofluorescence was performed with fluorescence confocal microscopy and fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy (FFS). The autofluorescence in both chemotaxing and nonchemotaxing cells is localized in discrete areas. The high intensity seen in cells incubated in the growth medium HG5 reduces by around 50% when incubated in buffer, and can be further reduced by around 85% by photobleaching cells for 5-7 s. The average intensity and spatial distribution of the autofluorescence do not change with long incubations in the buffer. The cellular autofluorescence has a seven times lower molecular brightness than eGFP. The influence of autofluorescence in FFS measurements can be minimized by incubating cells in buffer during the measurements, prebleaching, and making use of low excitation intensities. The results obtained in this study thus offer guidelines to the design of future fluorescence studies of Dictyostelium. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.