The polar orientation of cells within a tissue is an intensively studied research area in animal cells. The term planar polarity refers to the common polar arrangement of cells within the plane of an epithelium. In plants, the subcellular analysis of tissue polarity has been limited by the lack of appropriate markers. Recently, research on plant tissue polarity has come of age. Advances are based on studies of Arabidopsis patterning, cell polarity and auxin transport mutants employing the coordinated, polar localization of auxin transporters and the planar polarity of root epidermal hairs as markers. These approaches have revealed auxin transport and response, vesicular trafficking, membrane sterol and cytoskeletal requirements of tissue polarity. This review summarizes recent progress in research on vascular tissue and planar epidermal polarity in the Arabidopsis root and compares it to findings on planar polarity in animals and cell polarity in yeast. BioEssays 26:719–729, 2004. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.