Many questions in molecular and cellular biology can be reduced to questions about 'who talks to whom, when and how frequently'. Here, we review approaches we have used with single-pair fluorescence resonance energy transfer (spFRET) to follow the motions between two well-placed fluorescent probes to ask similar questions. We describe two systems. We have used a nucleosomal system in which the naked DNA molecule has the acceptor and donor dyes too far apart for FRET to occur whereas the dyes are close enough in the reconstituted nucleosome for FRET. As these individual nucleosomes were tethered on a surface, we could follow dynamics in the repositioning of these two dyes, inferring that nucleosomes stochastically and reversibly open and close. These results imply that most of the DNA on the nucleosome can be sporadically accessible to regulatory proteins and proteins that track the DNA double helix. In the case of following the binding of recombination protein RecA to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and the RecA filament displacement by DNA helicase motor PcrA, the dsDNA template is prepared with the two dyes close enough to each other to generate high FRET. Binding of the RecA molecules to form a filament lengthens the dsDNA molecule 1.5-fold and reduces the FRET accordingly. Once added, DNA motor protein helicase PcrA can displace the RecA filament with concomitant return of the DNA molecule to its original B-form and high FRET state. Thus, appropriately placed fluorescent dyes can be used to monitor conformational changes occurring in DNA and or proteins and provide increased sensitivity for investigating dynamic DNA-protein interactions in real time.