Virus-encoded movement proteins are the principal strategy by which all plant viruses counter the primary physical defense of the plant to infection - the cell wall - to produce systemic infection and disease. Our understanding of how these proteins act at the molecular and cellular level has increased enormously in the past decade and ushered in an exciting new era of plant virology as an approach to investigating plant cell structure and function. The earliest studies focused on how movement proteins interacted with plasmodesmata, and were an important element in demonstrating the dynamic nature of these intercellular channels. Current efforts are focused on the role of movement proteins in coordinating the replication of viral genomes and the vectorial movement of the progeny genomes through the infected cell, as well as into adjacent cells. Movement proteins are thus providing unique approaches to unravel the fundamental mechanisms by which macromolecular transport is directed and integrated within and between plant cells.