We report a novel approach for determining the enzymatic activity within a single suspended cell. Using a steady-state microfluidic delivery device and timed exposure to the pore-forming agent digitonin, we controlled the plasma membrane permeation of individual NG108-15 cells. Mildly permeabilized cells (100 pores) were exposed to a series of concentrations of fluorescein diphosphate (FDP), a fluorogenic alkaline phosphatase substrate, with and without levamisole, an alkaline phosphatase inhibitor. We generated quantitative estimates for intracellular enzyme activity and were able to construct both dose-response and dose-inhibition curves at the single-cell level, resulting in an apparent Michaelis contant Km of 15.3 muM += 1.02 (mean += standard error of the mean (SEM), n = 16) and an inhibition constant Ki of 0.59 mM += 0.07 (mean += SEM, n = 14). Enzymatic activity could be monitored just 40 s after permeabilization, and five point dose-inhibition curves could be obtained within 150 s. This rapid approach offers a new methodology for characterizing enzyme activity within single cells.