The Xenopus oocyte provides a powerful system for the expression and characterisation of plant membrane proteins. Many different types of plant membrane proteins have been expressed and characterised using this system. As there are already several general reviews on the methodology for oocyte expression of channel proteins, we have summarised the particular advantages and disadvantages of using the system for the characterisation of plant cotransporter proteins. As an example of how the system can be used to identify transporters, we describe evidence for a low affinity nitrate transporter in oocytes injected with poly(A) RNA extracted from nitrate-induced barley roots. Furthermore, we describe evidence that the expression of some transporters in oocytes can modify the properties of endogenous membrane proteins. We conclude that although care must be taken in the interpretation of results and in choosing appropriate controls for experiments, oocyte expression is an excellent tool which will have an important role in characterising plant membrane proteins.