Waveguide evanescent field fluorescence microscopy (WEFF) is a novel microscopy technology that allows imaging of a cell’s plasma membrane in the vicinity of a glass substrate with high axial resolution, low background and little photobleaching. Time-lapse imaging can be performed to investigate changes in cell morphology in the presence or absence of chemical agents. WEFF microscopy provides a method to investigate plasma membranes of living cells and allows a comparison to simplified model membranes immobilized on planar substrates. The interaction of the nonionic detergent Triton X-100 with plasma membranes of osteoblasts in an aqueous environment was investigated. Solubilization of the membranes very close to the waveguide surface was visualized and related to the three-stage solubilisation model proposed for liposomes and supported lipid bilayers. Findings for the plasma membranes of cells are in excellent agreement with results reported for these artificial model systems.