Submillimeter continuum emission traces high molecular column densities and, thus, dense cloud regions in which new stars are forming. Surveys of the Galactic plane in such emission have the potential of delivering an unbiased view of high-mass star formation throughout the Milky Way. Here we present the scope, current status and first results of ATLASGAL, an ongoing survey of the Galactic plane using the Large APEX Bolometer Camera (LABOCA) on the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope at the Chajnantor plateau in Chile. Aimed at mapping 360 square degrees at 870 μm, with a uniform sensitivity of 50 mJy/beam, this survey will provide the first unbiased sample of cold dusty clumps in the Galaxy at submillimeter wavelengths. These will be targets for molecular line follow-up observations and high resolution studies with ALMA and the EVLA.