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Fluorescent dihydroxypyridine ligands were prepared by attaching pyrene-, dansyl-, and methoxycoumarin-fluorophores via dimethyleneamine linkers. The reaction of these ligands with [(p-cymene)RuCl2]2 or [(C6H5CH2NMe2H)RuCl2]2Cl2 resulted in the formation of 12-metallacrown-3 complexes, which possess strong affinity for lithium ions. By a judicious choice of the fluorophore and the arene -ligand, a macrocycle was obtained that could be used in aqueous solution to selectively and quantitatively detect lithium ions by fluorescence spectroscopy