We examined the fluorescent spectral properties of fluorescein- labeled DNA oligomers when directly bound to metallic silver particles via a terminal sulfhydryl group. We found a 12-fold increase in fluorescence intensity and 25-fold decrease in lifetime for a fluorescein residue positioned 23 nucleotides from the silver surface compared to labeled oligomers in free solution. Similar results were found for a 23-mer labeled with five fluorescein residues. The absence of long lifetime components in the intensity decays suggests that all labeled oligomers are bound to silver and affected similarly by the metallic surfaces. These results provide the basic knowledge needed to begin use of metal-enhanced fluorescence for the detection of target sequences in simple formats potentially without a washing separation step. The use of metal-enhanced fluorescence provides a generic approach to obtaining a hybridization-dependent increase in fluorescence with most, if not all, commonly used fluorophores.