A panel of phosphorescent oligoarginine conjugates of tetracarboxylic Pt(II)-coproporphyrin I dye (PtCP), monosubstituted with long peptides or tetra-substituted with short peptides and having different linkers and peripheral groups, is described. Their photophysical properties, cell loading efficiency, and mechanisms of transport into the cell were investigated and compared. The conjugates were seen to rely on endocytotic mechanisms of cell entry, which are different from that of the unconjugated oligoarginine peptide, and show diverse patterns of intracellular distribution. On the basis of this study, the tetra-substituted PtCP conjugate displaying whole cell distribution was selected for the sensing of intracellular O(2). This probe has been tested in biological experiments on a fluorescence plate reader, including the monitoring of in situ oxygenation of respiring cells and their responses to metabolic stimulation. Similar conjugates of the phosphorescent Pd(II)-coprorphyrin and fluorescent coproporphyrin-ketone were also synthesized and assessed for the sensing of low levels intracellular O(2) and ratiometric pH-sensing, respectively. The results produced and the structure-activity relationships determined can facilitate the rational design of new bioconjugates of porphyrin dyes tailored to specific applications.