Beginning with Turing's seminal work , decades of research have demonstrated the fundamental ability of biochemical networks to generate and sustain the formation of patterns. However, it is increasingly appreciated that biochemical networks also both shape and are shaped by physical and mechanical processes [2, 3, 4]. One such process is fluid flow. In many respects, the cytoplasm, membrane and actin cortex all function as fluids, and as they flow, they drive bulk transport of molecules throughout the cell. By coupling biochemical activity to long-range molecular transport, flows can shape the distributions of molecules in space. Here, we review the various types of flows that exist in cells, with the aim of highlighting recent advances in our understanding of how flows are generated and how they contribute to intracellular patterning processes, such as the establishment of cell polarity.