In recent years, confocal microscopy has become a powerful tool for examining microscopic structures in the living eye. The decisive advantage of this technique is that it permits the investigation of optical sections of relatively thick (> 10 microns) specimens. Because confocal microscopy suppresses the out-of-focus blur, sharp three-dimensional images with excellent resolution can be obtained. Confocal microscopy is therefore able to provide more information than the classic methods--i.e., specular microscopy and slit-lamp biomicroscopy. This paper reviews recent applications of confocal microscopy in three fields of ophthalmology: the observation of the anatomy of the anterior parts of the eye, the investigation of these structures after local administration of drugs and, finally, the use of this technique for the diagnosis of infectious ocular diseases.