Wallin (1927) first published the notion that the fusion of bacteria with host cells was the principal source of genetic novelty for speciation. He suggested that mitochondria are transitional elements in this process. While the significance that he attributed to symbiosis now seem excessive, he was one of the first authors to be aware of the evolutionary potential of symbiotic events and his view of mitochondria may not seem strange to many cell biologists today. The most significant evolutionary development which has been attributed to intracellular symbiosis is the origin of eukaryotic cellular organization. The current status of the 'serial endosymbiosis hypothesis' is briefly reviewed. The case for the symbiotic origin of the chloroplast, based principally on 16 S RNA oligonucleotide cataloguing, is very strong. Mitochondrial origins are more obscure but also appear to be symbiotic due to recent 18 S cataloguing from wheat embryos. The probability of the multiple origin of some eukaryotic organelles is also examined, the processes in question being the acquisition of distinct stocks of chloroplasts from disparate photosynthetic prokaryotes and the secondary donation of organelles from degenerate eukaryotic endosymbionts to their hosts, with specific reference to the dinoflagellates Peridinium balticum, Kryptoperidinium foliaceum and the ciliate Mesodinium rubrum. It is concluded that the evolutionary potential of intracellular symbiosis ('cytobiosis': a term introduced in this paper) is great, with the best established influence being on the origin of eukaryotic chloroplasts. Together with the potential effects of viral vectors, symbiosis serves as a supplementary speciation mechanism capable of producing directed evolutionary changes. It is likely that these processes will explain some of the apparent anomalies in evolutionary rates and direction which are not readily explicable by the conventional synthetic theory of evolution.