Cells in cultures are important material of study for the variety of advantages that they offer. Both established continuous cell lines and primary cell cultures continue to be invaluable for basic research and for direct applications. Technological advancementsare important to address emerging complex challenges and the way cells are cultured in vitro is an area of intense activity. An important advancement in cell culture techniques is the introduction of three dimensional cultures systems. Probably, this area is one of the fastest growing experimental approaches in life sciences. Augmented with advancements in cell imaging and analytical systems, the applications of new scaffolds and matrices, cells are increasingly being grown as three dimensional models. Such cultures have proven to be closer to in vivo natural systems, thus proving to be useful material for many applications. Here, we review the three dimensional way of culturing cells, their advantages, the scaffolds and matrices currently available, and the applications of such cultures in major areas of life sciences. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.