The natural products that accumulate in or exude from plant glandular trichomes are biosynthesized by secretory cells located at the apex of the trichome. To investigate the formation of glandular trichome constituents in several species of mints (Lamiaceae), a new procedure was developed for isolating large numbers of highly purified secretory cells. In this method, the leaf surface is gently abraded with glass beads in a way that fragments the glandular trichomes and yields clusters of intact secretory cells. The isolated, intact secretory cells and cell-free preparations derived from them are very active in monoterpene biosynthesis and provide useful starting materials for the purification of several key enzymes of monoterpene metabolism. The procedure described is adaptable to a broad range of plant species and should find wide application in the preparation of whole cell and cell-free systems for biosynthetic studies of plant natural products found in glandular trichomes.