The VI NATO Advanced Study Institute on Plant Molecular Biology, held in Elmau, Bavaria, Germany, from 14 to 23 May, 1990, brought together representative scientific leaders from all over the world to review their lastest results. They presented lectures or posters, participated in lively discussions, educated students, and exchanged views and plans for future research in this highly exciting field of science. The experiments, data and questions were naturally varied, but all of them illustrate that the modern techniques of molecular biology, complemented by developments in immulogy, genetics, and ultrastructural research, have pervaded nearly every branch of biology. The presentations show that these approaches have tremendously increased our potential both for fundamental research, our understanding of life, and by analogy to the precedents of physics and chemistry, have led and will continue to lead to engineering sciences and implicitly, to new industrial processes. Some of these applications are a matter of debate in the public domain today and many feel that the development of industrial gene techlogy requires the attention of the whole scientific community. Nevertheless, the implications of this research for the genetic improvement of agricultural plants are profound. Some of the near term techlogies being developed provide vel approaches for improving the utility of food crops. They can also result in reduced dependence on the use of pesticides for food production.