We have developed a rapid method to screen large numbers of mutant plants for a broad range of cell wall phenotypes using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy of leaves. We established and validated a model that can discriminate between the leaves of wild-type and a previously defined set of cell-wall mutants of Arabidopsis. Exploratory principal component analysis indicated that mutants deficient in different cell-wall sugars can be distinguished from each other. Discrimination of cell-wall mutants from wild-type was independent of variability in starch content or additional unrelated mutations that might be present in a heavily mutagenised population. We then developed an analysis of FTIR spectra of leaves obtained from over 1000 mutagenised flax plants, and selected 59 plants whose spectral variation from wild-type was significantly out of the range of a wild-type population, determined by Mahalanobis distance. Cell wall sugars from the leaves of selected putative mutants were assayed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and 42 showed significant differences in neutral sugar composition. The FTIR spectra indicated that six of the remaining 17 plants have altered ester or protein content. We conclude that linear discriminant analysis of FTIR spectra is a robust method to identify a broad range of structural and architectural alterations in cell walls, appearing as a consequence of developmental regulation, environmental adaptation or genetic modification.