Exogenous administration of 5-aminolaevulinic acid (ALA) is becoming widely used to enhance the endogenous synthesis of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) in photodynamic therapy (PDT) and fluorescence photodetection (PD). Recently, results have shown that the chemical modification of ALA into its more lipophilic esters circumvents limitations of ALA-induced PpIX like shallow penetration depth into deep tissue layers and inhomogeneous biodistribution and enhances the total PpIX formation. The present clinical pilot study assesses the feasibility and the advantages of a topical ALA ester-based fluorescence photodetection in the human bladder. In this preliminary study 5-aminolaevulinic acid hexylester (h-ALA) solutions, containing concentrations ranging from 4 to 16 mM, were applied intravesically to 25 patients. Effects of time and drug dose on the resulting PpIX fluorescence level were determined in vivo with an optical fibre-based spectrofluorometer. Neither local nor systemic side-effects were observed for the applied conditions. All conditions used yielded a preferential PpIX accumulation in the neoplastic tissue. Our clinical investigations indicate that with h-ALA a twofold increase of PpIX fluorescence intensity can be observed using 20-fold lower concentrations as compared to ALA.