Because of the biological relevance of thiols and sulfides such as cysteine, homocysteine, glutathione and hydrogen sulfide, their detection has attracted a great deal of research interest. Fluorescent probes are emerging as a new strategy for thiol and hydrogen sulfide analysis due to their high sensitivity, low cost, and ability to detect and image thiols in biological samples. In this short review, we have summarized recent advances in the development of thiol and hydrogen sulfide reactive fluorescent probes. These probes are compared and contrasted with regard to their designing strategies, mechanisms, photophysical properties, and/or reaction kinetics. Biological applications of these probes are also discussed. J. Cell. Biochem. 115: 1007–1022, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.