Expressed sequence tag (EST) projects have generated a vast amount of publicly available sequence data from plant species; these data can be mined for simple sequence repeats (SSRs). These SSRs are useful as molecular markers because their development is inexpensive, they represent transcribed genes and a putative function can often be deduced by a homology search. Because they are derived from transcripts, they are useful for assaying the functional diversity in natural populations or germplasm collections. These markers are valuable because of their higher level of transferability to related species, and they can often be used as anchor markers for comparative mapping and evolutionary studies. They have been developed and mapped in several crop species and could prove useful for marker-assisted selection, especially when the markers reside in the genes responsible for a phenotypic trait. Applications and potential uses of EST-SSRs in plant genetics and breeding are discussed.