Functional studies on molecular transport through plasmodesmata in leaf mesophyll and trichome cells revealed significant differences in their basal size-exclusion limits and their response to microinjected tobacco mosaic virus movement protein (E. Waigmann et al., 1994, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91: 1433-1437; E. Waigmann and P. Zambryski, 1995, Plant Cell 7; 2069-2079). To address the basis for these functional differences, Nicotiana clevelandii trichome and mesophyll plasmodesmata were compared ultrastructurally. Trichome plasmodesmata increase in ultrastructural complexity from the tip to the base cell. Their neck regions, thought to control molecular traffic through plasmodesmata, are clearly distinct from necks of mesophyll plasmodesmata. In contrast to the electrondense desmotubular area in mesophyll plasmodesmata, trichome plasmodesmata contain an electron-translucent circle in their center, surrounded by an electrondense ring. This latter ring is connected to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane by multiple spokes or filaments. Two monoclonal antibodies raised against a maize plasmodesmal protein preparation (A. Turner et al., 1994, J Cell Sci. 107: 3351-3361) interact with both trichome and mesophyll N. clevelandii plasmodesmata. Based on the localization pattern and the high degree of cross-reactivity, both antibodies likely recognize a conserved structural component of plasmodesmata, and may be useful to mark plasmodesma in a variety of plants and tissues.