Quantum dots (QDs) are novel nanocrystal fluorophores with extremely high fluorescence efficiency and minimal photobleaching. They also possess a constant excitation wavelength together with sharp and symmetrical tunable emission spectra. These unique optical properties make them near-perfect fluorescent markers and there has recently been rapid development of their use for bioimaging. QDs can be conjugated to a wide range of biological targets, including proteins, antibodies, and nucleic acid probes, rendering them of particular interest to pathology researchers. They have been used in multiplex immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, which when combined with multispectral imaging, has enabled quantitative measurement of gene expression in situ. QDs have also been used for live in vivo animal imaging and are now being applied to an ever-increasing range of biological problems. These are detailed in this review, which also acts to outline the important advances that have been made in their range of applications. The relative novelty of QDs can present problems in their practical use and guidelines for their application are given. Copyright © 2008 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.