Studies of the immune system are providing us with ever more detailed information on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie our evolutionarily conserved ability to fend off infectious pathogens. Progress has probably been fastest at two levels: the various basic biological functions of isolated cells on one side and the significance of individual molecules or cells to the organism as a whole on the other. In both cases, direct phenomenological observation has been an invaluable methodological approach. Where we know least is the middle ground, i.e. how immune functions are integrated through the dynamic interplay of immune cell subsets within the organism. Most of our knowledge in this area has been obtained through inference from static snapshots of dynamic processes, such as histological sections, or from surrogate cell co-culture models. The latter are employed under the assumption that an in vivo equivalent exists for each type of cellular contact artificially enforced in absence of anatomical compartmentalization. In this review, we summarize recent insights on migration and effector functions of T cells, focusing on observations gained from their dynamic microscopic visualization in physiological tissue environments.