Flow cytometry is a powerful technique for the study of single cells, and thus it is of particular utility in the study of heterogeneity in microbial populations. This review seeks to highlight the role of flow cytometric analyses in studies of microbial heterogeneity, drawing wherever possible on recently published research articles. Whilst microbial heterogeneity is well documented in both natural and laboratory environments, the underlying causes are less well understood. Possible sources for the heterogeneity that is observed in microbial systems are discussed, together with the flow cytometric tools that aid its study. The role of flow cytometry in molecular biology is discussed with reference to gene reporter systems, which enable heterogeneity of gene expression to be monitored. With the recent sequencing of a variety of microbial genomes, it is anticipated that flow cytometry will have an increasing role to play in studying the effects of gene expression and mutation on heterogeneity, and in resolving the interactions of genetics and physiology.