Fundamentals of Flow Cytometry

Mol Biotechnol. 1999 Feb;11(1):37-53. doi: 10.1007/BF02789175.


Flow cytometers are instruments that are used primarily to measure the physical and biochemical characteristics of biological particles. This technology is used to perform measurements on whole cells as well as prepared cellular constituents, such as nuclei and organelles. Flow cytometers are investigative tools for a broad range of scientific disciplines because they make measurements on thousands of individual cells/particles in a matter of seconds. This is a unique advantage relative to other detection instruments that provide bulk particle measurements. Flow cytometry is a complex and highly technical field; therefore, a basic understanding of the technology is essential for all users. The purpose of this article is to provide fundamental information about the instrumentation used for flow cytometry as well as the methods used to analyze and interpret data. This information will provide a foundation to use flow cytometry effectively as a research tool.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Equipment Design
  • Flow Cytometry / instrumentation
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Optics and Photonics