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We report on studies aimed at employing the atomic force microscope (AFM) to measure the viscosity of aqueous solutions. At ambient temperature, the AFM cantilever undergoes thermal fluctuations that are highly sensitive to the local environment. Here, we present measurements of the cantilever’s resonant frequency in aqueous solutions of glycerol, sucrose, ethanol, sodium chloride, polyethylene glycol, and bovine plasma albumin. The measurements revealed that variations in the resonant frequency of the cantilever in the different solutions are largely dependent on the viscosity of the medium. An application of this technique is to monitor the progression of a chemical reaction where a change in viscosity is expected to occur. An example is demonstrated through monitoring of the hydrolysis of double stranded deoxyribonucleic acid by DNase I. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.