Giemsa staining is used for peripheral blood smears to facilitate the detection of different blood cells and blood pathogens, such as the causative agent of Malaria. It stains red blood cells in red/pink and platelets in light pink. The leukocyte nuclear chromatin appears in magenta (Figure 1). Giemsa specifically binds to phosphate groups of DNA, in particular to regions of the DNA that is rich in adenine-thymine bonding.

Figure 1: Micrograph of a giemsa stained blood smear. The majority of cells visible are red blood cells. In addition, one leukocyte is visible and around 10 platelets.