The ligand glyoxal bis(4-methyl-4-phenyl-3-thiosemicarbazone) (GTSCH2) is shown to be a selective fluorescence “turn-on” sensor for zinc ions (Zn2+). This sensor is easy to synthesize, exhibits excellent sensitivity and selectivity towards Zn2+ over other physiologically relevant cations, and has sub-nanomolar binding affinity. It displays maximum fluorescence response to Zn2+ when the metal/ligand ratio is 1:1 and displays stable fluorescence over a broad pH range. The potential of GTSCH2 to image Zn2+ inside the cell was demonstrated in MCF-7 cells (human breast cancer cell line) by using flow cytometry and confocal fluorescence microscopy. Cell viability studies reveal that the probe is biocompatible and suitable for cellular applications.