There exists a significant need for the detection of novel estrogen receptor (ER) ligands for pharmaceutical uses, especially for treating complications associated with menopause. We have developed fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors that permit the direct in vitro detection of ER ligands. These biosensors contain an ER ligand-binding domain (LBD) flanked by the FRET donor fluorophore, cyan fluorescent protein (CFP), and the acceptor fluorophore, yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). The ER-LBD has been modified so that Ala 430 has been changed to Asp, which increases the magnitude of the FRET signal in response to ligand-binding by more than four-fold compared to the wild-type LBD. The binding of agonists can be distinguished from that of antagonists on the basis of the distinct ligand-induced conformations in the ER-LBD. The approach to binding equilibrium occurs within 30min, and the FRET signal is stable over 24h. The biosensor demonstrates a high signal-to-noise, with a Z' value (a statistical determinant of assay quality) of 0.72. The affinity of the ER for different ligands can be determined using a modified version of the biosensor in which a truncated YFP and an enhanced CFP are used. Thus, we have developed platforms for high-throughput screens for the identification of novel estrogen receptor ligands. Moreover, we have demonstrated that this FRET technology can be applied to other nuclear receptors, such as the androgen receptor.