DNA microarray technology is a key element in today's functional genomics toolbox. The power of the method lies in miniaturization, automation and parallelism permitting large-scale and genome-wide acquisition of quantitative biological information from multiple samples. DNA microarrays are currently fabricated and assayed by two main approaches involving either in situ synthesis of oligonucleotides (`oligonucleotide microarrays') or deposition of pre-synthesized DNA fragments (`cDNA microarrays') on solid surfaces. To date, the main applications of microarrays are in comprehensive, simultaneous gene expression monitoring and in DNA variation analyses for the identification and genotyping of mutations and polymorphisms. Already at a relatively early stage of its application in plant science, microarrays are being utilized to examine a range of biological issues including the circadian clock, plant defence, environmental stress responses, fruit ripening, phytochrome A signalling, seed development and nitrate assimilation. Novel insights are obtained into the molecular mechanisms co-ordinating metabolic pathways, regulatory and signalling networks. Exciting new information will be gained in the years to come not only from genome-wide expression analyses on a few model plant species, but also from extensive studies of less thoroughly studied species on a more limited scale. The value of microarray technology to our understanding of living processes will depend both on the amount of data to be generated and on its clever exploration and integration with other biological knowledge arising from complementary functional genomics tools for `profiling' the genome, proteome, metabolome and phenome.