In just over a decade, the field of biomedical research has witnessed a radical evolution in technologies for the 3- and 4-dimensional imaging of biological samples. Light sheet fluorescence microscopy is quickly developing into a powerful approach for fast, volumetric imaging of cells, tissues and living organisms. This review touches on the development of 3-dimensional imaging, from its foundations, namely from the invention of confocal microscopy in the twentieth century to more recent examples, notably the IsoView SPIM, the Lattice Light Sheet Microscope and swept confocally aligned planar excitation. These technologies overcome the limitations of conventional optical sectioning techniques and enable unprecedented levels of spatio-temporal resolution with low levels of phototoxicity. Developing in parallel with powerful computational approaches, light sheet based methods promise to completely transform cell biology as we know it today.