Insect cell lines such as Sf9 and High Five (TM) have been widely used to produce recombinant proteins mostly by the lytic baculovirus vector system. We have recently established an expression platform in Sf9 cells using a fluorescence-based recombinase mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) strategy which has similar development timelines but avoids baculovirus infection. To expedite cell engineering efforts, a robust fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) protocol optimized for insect cells was developed here. The standard sorting conditions used for mammalian cells proved to be unsuitable, resulting in post-sorting viabilities below 10% for both cell lines. We found that the extreme sensitivity to the shear stress displayed by Sf9 and High Five (TM) cells was the limiting factor, and using Pluronic F-68 in the cell suspension could increase post-sorting viabilities in a dose dependent manner. The newly developed protocol was then used to sort stable populations of both cell lines tagged with a DsRed-expressing cassette. Before sorting, the average fluorescence intensity of the Sf9 cell population was 3-fold higher than that of the High Five (TM) cell population. By enriching with the 10% strongest DsRed-fluorescent cells, the productivity of both cell populations could be successfully improved. The established sorting protocol potentiates the use of RMCE technology for recombinant protein production in insect cells. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.