Although soil contains only traces of soluble carbohydrates, plant roots take up glucose and sucrose efficiently when supplied in artificial media. Soluble carbohydrates and other small metabolites found in soil are in part products from exudation from plant roots. The molecular nature of the transporters for uptake and exudation is unknown. Here, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) glucose and sucrose sensors were used to characterize accumulation and elimination of glucose and sucrose in Arabidopsis roots tips. Using an improved image acquisition set-up, FRET responses to perfusion with carbohydrates were detectable in roots within less than 10 sec and over a wide concentration range. Accumulation was fully reversible within 10-180 sec after glucose or sucrose had been withdrawn; elimination may be caused by metabolism and/or efflux. The rate of elimination was unaffected by pre-incubation with high concentrations of glucose, suggesting that elimination is not due to accumulation in a short-term buffer such as the vacuole. Glucose and sucrose accumulation was insensitive to protonophores, was comparable in media differing in potassium levels, and was similar at pH 5.8, 6.8 and 7.8, suggesting that both influx and efflux may be mediated by proton-independent transport systems. High-resolution expression mapping in root tips showed that only a few proton-dependent transport of the STP (Sugar Transport Protein) and SUT/SUC (Sucrose Transporter/Carrier) families are expressed in the external cell layers of root tips. The root expression maps may help to pinpoint candidate genes for uptake and release of carbohydrates from roots.