Plant genetic resources are conserved so that they can be used to improve crop plant pro- duction and in other ways. However, it is often asserted that use of ex situ conserved germplasm is inadequate and that genetic diversity maintained in genebanks is underutilized. In part, this reflects an incomplete recognition of what constitutes use of plant genetic resources, and of the many different ways in which material from genebanks contributes to improved agricultural production. Based on recent information from surveys of distribution of germplasm from genebanks, and from surveys of users, we suggest that the evidence indicates that there is substantial use of ex situ conserved materials for a wide range of different uses. We suggest that barriers to use of ex situ conserved germplasm may often result from a lack in numbers of users, and from limitations in capacity to effectively utilize the genetic diversity present in genebanks to reduce genetic vulnerability and increase sustainability in modern production systems.