The plant hormone auxin plays crucial roles in regulating plant growth development, including embryo and root patterning, organ formation, vascular tissue differentiation and growth responses to environmental stimuli. Asymmetric auxin distribution patterns have been observed within tissues, and these so-called auxin gradients change dynamically during different developmental processes. Most auxin is synthesized in the shoot and distributed directionally throughout the plant. This polar auxin transport is mediated by auxin influx and efflux facilitators, whose subcellular polar localizations guide the direction of auxin flow. The polar localization of PIN auxin efflux carriers changes in response to developmental and external cues in order to channel auxin flow in a regulated manner for organized growth. Auxin itself modulates the expression and subcellular localization of PIN proteins, contributing to a complex pattern of feedback regulation. Here we review the available information mainly from studies of a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, on the generation of auxin gradients, the regulation of polar auxin transport and further downstream cellular events.