Most knowledge of clathrin-mediated endocytosis has been gained by biochemical fractionation and in vitro assays. Recently, the study of endocytosis has extended into the living cell. The tracking of individual clathrin-coated pits and vesicles (CCPs and CCVs) has provided new insight into understanding the dynamic nature of CCPs. The use of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIR-FM), also termed evanescent field microscopy, has enabled the direct observation of events occurring within a restricted area of the cell adjacent to and including the adherent plasma membrane. TIR-FM is now actively being pursued in the study of endocytic processes. The direct observation of CCP-associated proteins including clathrin itself, dynamin and, most recently, AP-2 has considerably challenged old models, confirming some points but raising very interesting new questions.