This new section is our way of celebrating 50 years of magnificent cell biology in the pages of the Journal of Cell Biology. It is, to a first approximation, chronological, but by necessity far from exhaustive. We consciously set out to sketch some high points in the history of the Journal, but not to cover the entirety of cell biology. Papers from other journals are, however, always cited when appropriate.

The selection of articles to be covered will always be a subjective process. We tried to improve these judgements by using multiple sources of information: older review articles, citation frequencies and, most importantly, the recommendations of past and present JCB editorial board members. Sincere thanks to all those who provided suggestions and helped with context and first-hand accounts of research—research that happened many years ago but that provides many salient lessons for cell biologists working today. Happy reading!