Abstract The scanning electron microscope (SEM) has become a powerful tool for ultrastructural research with improvement of the instrument's resolution and progress in specimen preparation techniques. With regard to resolution, it has been improved step-by-step in this decade and, in 1985, an ultra-high resolution SEM (UHS-T1) was developed, with a resolution of 0.5 nm. Concerning specimen preparation, the osmium-DMSO-osmium method, which is effective for revealing intracellular structures, has come to be widely used. Techniques for observing smaller objects, such as bacteriophages, viruses, and biological macromolecules, have also been devised in recent years. As a result of these preparation techniques and the availability of the ultra-high resolution SEM, the application of SEM in biology is expanding rapidly. In this paper, an outline of the ultra-high resolution SEM, techniques for specimen preparation, findings of some biological materials by these techniques, and guidelines to making the specimens, are described.