Spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) has been implicated in a number of pathologies including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis and thus has been pursued as a novel therapeutic target. Because of the complex relationship between Syk's auto- and other internal phosphorylation sites, scaffolding proteins, enzymatic activation state and sites of phosphorylation on its known substrates, the role of Syk's activity in these diseases has not been completely clear. To approach such analyses, we developed a Syk-specific artificial peptide biosensor (SAStide) to use in a cell-based assay for direct detection of intracellular Syk activity and inhibition in response to physiologically relevant stimuli in both laboratory cell lines and primary splenic B cells. This peptide contains a sequence derived from known Syk substrate preference motifs linked to a cell permeable peptide, resulting in a biosensor that is phosphorylated in live cells in a Syk-dependent manner, thus serving as a reporter of Syk catalytic activity in intact cells. Because the assay is compatible with live, primary cells and can report pharmacodynamics for drug action on an intended target, this methodology could be used to facilitate a better understanding of Syk's function and the effect of its inhibition in disease.