The gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) of Aequorea victoria was introduced into the expression cassette of a virus vector based on potato virus X (PVX). Host plants of PVX inoculated with PVX.GFP became systemically infected. Production of GFP in these plants was detected initially between 1 and 2 days postinoculation by the presence of regions on the inoculated leaf that fluoresced bright green under UV light. Subsequently, this green fluorescence was evident in systemically infected tissue. The fluorescence could be detected by several methods. The simplest of these was by looking at the UV-illuminated plants in a darkened room. The PVX.GFP-infected tissue has been analysed either by epifluorescence or confocal laser scanning microscopy. These microscopical methods allow the presence of the virus to be localized to individual infected cells. It was also possible to detect the green fluorescence by spectroscopy or by electrophoresis of extracts from infected plants. To illustrate the potential application of this reporter gene in virological studies a derivative of PVX.GFP was constructed in which the coat protein gene of PVX was replaced by GFP. Confocal laser scanning microscopy of the inoculated tissue showed that the virus was restricted to the inoculated cells thereby confirming earlier speculation that the PVX coat protein is essential for cell-to-cell movement. It is likely that GFP will be useful as a reporter gene in transgenic plants as well as in virus-infected tissue.