Cytoplasmic actin distributes between monomeric and filamentous phases in cells. As cells crawl, actin polymerizes near the plasma membrane of expanding peripheral cytoplasm and depolymerizes elsewhere. Thus, the finite actin filament lifetime, the diffusivity of actin monomer, and the distribution of actin between the polymer and monomer phases are key parameters in cell motility. The dynamics of cellular actin can be determined by following the evolution of fluorescence in the techniques of photoactivated fluorescence (PAF) or fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) of microinjected actin derivatives. A mathematical model is discussed that measures monomer diffusion coefficients, filament turnover rates, and the fraction of actin polymerized from measurements of the evolution of fluorescence from a photoactivated band [Tardy et al. (1995) Biophys. J., 69:1674-1682; McGrath et al. (1998) Biophys. J., in press]. Applying this model to subconfluent endothelial cells shows that approximately 40% of the actin is polymer and that these filaments turn over on average every 6 minutes. This report discusses how PAF and FRAP can be combined with more traditional biochemistry to probe actin cytoskeleton remodeling in endothelial cells.