UNIT 14.11 Basic Confocal Microscopy

  1. Carolyn L. Smith

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142727.mb1411s44

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

How to Cite

Smith, C. L. 2001. Basic Confocal Microscopy. Current Protocols in Molecular Biology. 14:14.11.

Author Information

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: OCT 1998

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (1 JAN 2008)


Confocal microscopy produces sharp images of structures within relatively thick specimens (up to several hundred microns). It is particularly useful for examining fluorescent specimens, such as fluorescent-stained cells or intact organisms (e.g., Drosophila or zebrafish embryos), and can localize intracellular antigens in dissociated cells. Its sensitivity even allows the monitoring of fluorescence in living organisms, making it possible to follow the movements of fluorescent probes such as GFP or dyes for specific organelles. This unit presents the theory of optical sectioning, describes the instrumentation of the technique, and offers practical guidelines for sample preparation and analysis.