Unlike enzyme markers, green fluorescent protein can be visualized at high resolution in living cells using confocal microscopy. The images are not prone to fixation or staining artifacts, and can be of exceptional clarity. Moreover, the activities of living cells, such as cytoplasmic streaming, are clearly evident during microscopy. Ordinarily, movement within a sample is a nuisance, placing constraints on the use of sometimes lengthy techniques for noise reduction during confocal microscopy, such as frame averaging. However, it is possible to monitor dynamic events by time-lapse confocal microscopy, and this combination of a vital fluorescent reporter with high-resolution optical techniques shows much promise for use in cell biological and physiological experiments. Genetic systems such as that of Arabidopsis provide a large resource of potentially informative mutants, and there has been much recent improvement in techniques for determining the molecular basis of a particular phenotype. The use of fluorescent proteins will provide further tools for examining the biology of mutant cells. The precision with which particular cellular structures can be decorated with GFP and the ease with which subcellular traffic can be monitored indicate that this approach will be very useful for cell biological and physiological observations, particularly for detailed examination of plant mutant phenotypes.