This paper will review the development of wide-field and confocal microscopes with wavefront sensing and adaptive optics for correcting refractive aberrations and compensating scattering when imaging through thick tissues (Drosophila embryos and mouse brain tissue). To make wavefront measurements in biological specimens we have modified the laser guide-star techniques used in astronomy for measuring wavefront aberrations that occur as star light passes through Earth’s turbulent atmosphere. Here sodium atoms in Earth’s mesosphere, at an altitude of 95 km, are excited to fluoresce at resonance by a high-power sodium laser. The fluorescent light creates a guide-star reference beacon at the top of the atmosphere that can be used for measuring wavefront aberrations that occur as the light passes through the atmosphere. We have developed a related approach for making wavefront measurements in biological specimens using cellular structures labeled with fluorescent proteins as laser guide-stars. An example is a fluorescently labeled centrosome in a fruit fly embryo or neurons and dendrites in mouse brains. Using adaptive optical microscopy we show that the Strehl ratio, the ratio of the peak intensity of an aberrated point source relative to the diffraction limited image, can be improved by an order of magnitude when imaging deeply into live dynamic specimens, enabling near diffraction limited deep tissue imaging.