To optimize photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photodetection of cancer with second-generation photosensitizers, knowledge of important variables such as the uptake of the dye and the dye contrast between normal and tumoral tissue after injection is necessary. The pharmacokinetics of a second-generation photosensitizer, tetra(meta-hydroxyphenyl)chlorin (mTHPC), is presented. To study this in a clin. context, an app. based on fluorescence spectroscopy and a noninvasive optical fiber probe has been used. The mTHPC fluorescence is induced at 2 excitation wavelengths (420 and 520 nm) with different penetration depth. The pharmacokinetics of mTHPC in patients with a squamous-cell carcinoma in the oral cavity show a signal selectivity as high as 16 about 3 h after i.v. injection for the more advanced carcinomas. The magnitude of this selectivity appears to correlate with the staging of the cancer, the more invasive tumors showing the highest selectivity. Results obtained at 420 and 520 nm show little difference. These pharmacokinetics can be used directly for optimizing photodetection with mTHPC. However, complementary information on the localization of the drug by fluorescence microscopy, and a correlation of this data with tumor necrosis efficacy, are needed to optimize PDT timing.