Members of the family of the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) are the only known type of natural pigments that are essentially encoded by a single gene, since both the substrate for pigment biosynthesis and the necessary catalytic moieties are provided within a single polypeptide chain. In sharp contrast to the state of knowledge just three years ago when GFP was the only known protein of its kind, a whole family of related proteins, exhibiting striking diversity of features have now been identified. This provides new possibilities for a variety of studies ranging from applied biotechnology to evolutionary ecology. BioEssays 24:953–959, 2002. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.