Phthalocyanine photosensitizers are effective in anticancer photodynamic therapy (PDT) but suffer from limited solubility, limited cellular uptake and limited selectivity for cancer cells. To improve these characteristics, we synthesized isopropylidene-protected and partially deprotected tetra β-glycosylated zinc (II) phthalocyanines and compared their uptake and accumulation kinetics, subcellular localization, in vitro photocytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species generation with those of disulfonated aluminum phthalocyanine. In MCF-7 cancer cells, one of the compounds, zinc phthalocyanine {4}, demonstrated 10-fold higher uptake, 5-fold greater PDT-induced cellular reactive oxygen species concentration and 2-fold greater phototoxicity than equimolar (9 μm) disulfonated aluminum phthalocyanine. Thus, isopropylidene-protected β-glycosylation of phthalocyanines provides a simple method of improving the efficacy of PDT.