The function of the 30-kilodalton movement protein (MP) of tobacco mosaic virus is to facilitate cell-to-cell movement of viral progeny in an infected plant. A novel method for delivering non-plasmalemma-permeable fluorescent probes to the cytosol of spongy mesophyll cells of tobacco leaves was used to study plasmodesmatal size exclusion limits in transgenic plants that express the MP gene. Movement of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled dextran (F-dextran) with an average molecular mass of 9400 daltons and an approximate Stokes radius of 2.4 nanometers was detected between cells of the transgenic plants, whereas the size exclusion limit for the control plants was 700 to 800 daltons. No evidence of F-dextran metabolism in the leaves of the transgenic plants was found. Thus, the tobacco mosaic virus movement protein has a direct effect on a plasmodesmatal function.