Dithiomaleimides (DTMs) with alkyl substituents are shown to be a novel class of highly emissive fluorophores. Variable solubility and further functionalization can easily be tailored through the choice of N and S substituents. Inclusion of a DTM unit into a ROP/RAFT initiator or insertion into the disulfide bond of salmon calcitonin (sCT) demonstrates the utility for fluorescent labeling of polymers and proteins. Simultaneous PEGylation and fluorescent labeling of sCT is also demonstrated, using the DTM unit as both a linker and a fluorophore. It is anticipated that DTMs will offer an attractive alternative to commonly used bulky, planar fluorophores.