The aim of this study was to assess the potential DNA damage response (DDR) to four supravitally used biomarkers Hoechst 33342 (Ho 42), DRAQ5, DyeCycle Violet (DCV), and SYTO 17. A549 cells were exposed to these biomarkers at concentrations generally applied to live cells and their effect on histone H2AX (Ser 139), p53 (Ser15), ATM (Ser1981), and Chk2 (Thr68) phosphorylation was assessed using phospho-specific Abs. Short-term treatment with Ho 42 led to modest degree of ATM activation with no evidence of H2AX, Chk2, or p53 phosphorylation. However, pronounced ATM, Chk2, and p53 phosphorylation and perturbed G2 progression were seen after 18 h. While short-term treatment with DRAQ5 induced ATM activation with no effect on H2AX, Chk2, and p53, dramatic changes marked by a high degree of H2AX, ATM, Chk2, and p53 phosphorylation, all occurring predominantly in S phase cells, and a block in cell cycle progression, were seen after 18 h exposure. These changes suggest that the DRAQ5-induced DNA lesions may become converted into double-strand DNA breaks during replication. Exposure to DCV also led to an increase in the level of activated ATM and Chk2 as well as of phosphorylated p53 and accumulation of cells in G2M and S phase. Exposure to SYTO 17 had no significant effect on any of the measured parameters. The data indicate that supravital use of Ho 42, DRAQ5, and DCV induces various degrees of DDR, including activation of ATM, Chk2 and p53, which may have significant consequences on regulatory cell cycle pathways and apoptosis. © 2009 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.