Understanding complex tissues requires single-cell deconstruction of gene regulation with precision and scale. Here, we assess the performance of a massively parallel droplet-based method for mapping transposase-accessible chromatin in single cells using sequencing (scATAC-seq). We apply scATAC-seq to obtain chromatin profiles of more than 200,000 single cells in human blood and basal cell carcinoma. In blood, application of scATAC-seq enables marker-free identification of cell type-specific cis- and trans-regulatory elements, mapping of disease-associated enhancer activity and reconstruction of trajectories of cellular differentiation. In basal cell carcinoma, application of scATAC-seq reveals regulatory networks in malignant, stromal and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Analysis of scATAC-seq profiles from serial tumor biopsies before and after programmed cell death protein 1 blockade identifies chromatin regulators of therapy-responsive T cell subsets and reveals a shared regulatory program that governs intratumoral CD8+ T cell exhaustion and CD4+ T follicular helper cell development. We anticipate that scATAC-seq will enable the unbiased discovery of gene regulatory factors across diverse biological systems.