Two decades of development driven largely by military night vision applications has led to the availability of a wide selection of microchannel plates for use by the scientific community. Microchannel plates (MCPs) are electron multipliers which retain a high degree of spatial resolution making it possible to amplify electron images by factors of 1000 or more. Plates having 40 mm diameter and intrinsic spatial resolution of 8 micrometers are readily available. By coating the front surface of a microchannel plate with an x-ray sensitive photocathode material, x-ray images can be detected and amplified. While the detective quantum efficiency is relatively low, the low noise of the MCP (including the ability to construct images by single photon detection) and its high dynamic range make it suitable for some x-ray microscopy applications. The principles of MCP operation and typical performance are discussed. Examples of related applications and commercial capabilities also are presented.