We describe the potential of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)–induced protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence as a source of contrast for margin detection in commonly diagnosed breast cancer subtypes. Fluorescence intensity of PpIX in untreated and ALA-treated normal mammary epithelial and breast cancer cell lines of varying estrogen receptor expression were quantitatively imaged with confocal micro-scopy. Percentage change in fluorescence intensity integrated over (attributed to PpIX) of posttreated compared to pretreated cells showed statistically significant differences between four breast cancer and two normal mammary epithelial cell lines. However, a direct comparison of post-treatment PpIX fluorescence intensities showed no differences between breast cancer and normal mammary epithelial cell lines due to confounding effects by endogenous fluorescence from flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). Clinically, it is impractical to obtain pre- and post-treatment images. Thus, spectral imaging was demonstrated as a means to remove the effects of endo-genous FAD fluorescence allowing for discrimination between post-treatment PpIX fluorescence of four breast cancer and two normal mammary epithelial cell lines. Fluorescence spectral imaging of ALA-treated breast cancer cells showed preferential PpIX accumulation regardless of malignant phenotype and suggests a useful contrast mechanism for discrimination of residual cancer at the surface of breast tumor margins.