Recent years have seen the introduction of novel techniques and applications of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM). Key technical achievements include miniaturization, enhanced depth resolution, reduction of detection volumes and the combination of TIRFM with other microscopic techniques. Novel applications have concentrated on single-molecule detection (e.g. of cellular receptors), imaging of exocytosis or endocytosis, measurements of adhesion foci of microtubules, and studies of the localization, activity and structural arrangement of specific ion channels. In addition to conventional fluorescent dyes, genetically engineered fluorescent proteins are increasingly being used to measure molecular conformations or intermolecular distances by fluorescence resonance energy transfer.