Green fluorescent protein and related proteins carry chromophores formed within the protein from their own amino acids. Corresponding synthetic compounds are non-fluorescent in solution due to photoinduced isomerization of the benzylideneimidiazolidinone core. Restriction of this internal rotation by binding to host molecules leads to pronounced, up to three orders of magnitude, increase of fluorescence intensity. This property allows using GFP chromophore analogs as fluorogenic dyes to detect metal ions, proteins, nucleic acids, and other hosts. For example, RNA aptamer named Spinach, which binds to and activates fluorescence of some GFP chromophores, was proved to be a unique label for live-cell imaging of specific RNAs, endogenous metabolites and target proteins. Chemically locked GFP chromophores are brightly fluorescent and represent potentially useful dyes due to their small size and high water solubility.