An organ-on-a-chip is a microfluidic cell culture device created with microchip manufacturing methods that contains continuously perfused chambers inhabited by living cells arranged to simulate tissue- and organ-level physiology. By recapitulating the multicellular architectures, tissue-tissue interfaces, physicochemical microenvironments and vascular perfusion of the body, these devices produce levels of tissue and organ functionality not possible with conventional 2D or 3D culture systems. They also enable high-resolution, real-time imaging and in vitro analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic activities of living cells in a functional tissue and organ context. This technology has great potential to advance the study of tissue development, organ physiology and disease etiology. In the context of drug discovery and development, it should be especially valuable for the study of molecular mechanisms of action, prioritization of lead candidates, toxicity testing and biomarker identification.