The influence of Li(+), Na(+), K(+), Rb(+), Cs(+), Mg(2+), Ca(2+), Sr(2+), Ba(2+), Ag(+), Cd(2+), Co(2+), Fe(2+), Hg(2+), Mn(2+), Pb(2+), Zn(2+) and Fe(3+) on the spectroscopic properties of two dansyl (1-dimethylaminonaphthalene-5-sulfonyl) groups linked to the lower rims of a series of three, structurally related, di-ionized calixarenes is investigated by means of absorption and emission spectrophotometry. Di(tetramethylammonium) salts of the di-ionized ligands, L, L1, and L2, which differ in having no, two and four allyl groups, respectively, on the upper rim of the calixarene scaffold, are utilized for the spectrofluorimetric titration experiments in MeCN. On complexation by alkaline earth metal cations, the emission spectra undergo marked red shifts and quenching of the dansyl fluorescence. These effects are weaker with alkali metal cations. Transition metal cations and Pb(2+) interact strongly with the ligands. In particular, Fe(3+), Hg(2+) and Pb(2+) cause greater than 99% quenching of the dansyl fluorescence. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.