Effective delivery of optical contrast agents into live cells remains a significant challenge. We sought to determine whether Triton-X100, a detergent commonly used for membrane isolation and protein purification, could be used to effectively and reversibly permeabilize live cells for delivery of targeted optical contrast agents. Although Triton-X100 is widely recognized as a good cell permeabilization agent, no systematic study has evaluated the efficiency, reproducibility, and reversibility of Triton-X100–mediated permeabilization in live mammalian cells. We report a series of studies to characterize macromolecule delivery in cells following Triton-X100 treatment. Using this approach, we demonstrate that molecules ranging from in molecular weight can be reproducibly delivered into live cells by controlling the moles of Triton-X100 relative to the number of cells to be treated. When Triton-X100 is administered at or near the minimum effective concentration, cell permeabilization is generally reversed within , and treated cells continue to proliferate and show metabolic activity during the restoration of membrane integrity. We conclude that Triton-X100 is a promising permeabilization agent for efficient and reproducible delivery of optical contrast agents into live mammalian cells.