Electron cryomicroscopy and single-particle reconstruction have advanced substantially over the past two decades. There are now numerous examples of structures that have been solved using this technique to better than 10 A resolution. At such resolutions, direct identification of alpha helices is possible and, often, beta-sheet-containing regions can be identified. The most numerous subnanometer resolution structures are the icosahedral viruses, as higher resolution is easier to achieve with higher symmetry. Important non-icosahedral structures solved to subnanometer resolution include several ribosome structures, clathrin assemblies and, most recently, the Ca2+ release channel. There is now hope that, in the next few years, this technique will achieve resolutions approaching 4 A, permitting a complete trace of the protein backbone without reference to a crystal structure.