Examples from yeast and plant cells are described that show that their plasma membrane is laterally compartmented. Distinct lateral domains encompassing both specific lipids and integral proteins coexist within the plane of the plasma membrane. The compartments are either spatially stable and include distinct sets of proteins, or they are transiently formed to accomplish diverse functions. They are not related to lipid rafts or their clusters, as defined for mammalian cells. This review summarises only well-documented compartments of plasma membranes from plants and fungi, which have been recognised using microscopic approaches. In several cases, physiological functions of the membrane compartmentation are revealed.