In the first episode of season three, Wesley is working on an experiment with nanites, tiny molecular machines he has programmed to work together and evolve.


The nanites get loose and wreak havoc on the ship's computer systems.

Do any kind of nanites ever show up in any other Star Trek stories? (e.g. - tv shows, movies, games, or books) I prefer answers that are canon, not fanfic stories.

Wesley mentions nanites in an offhand comment in Best of Both Worlds, part 2, but I am not asking for a simple mention of them, but where nanites actually participate in the plot of the story.

Edit to add: I am asking about nanites made by the Federation or Starfleet, not by the Borg. I know Borg nanites show up in a few episodes. I am asking because I think nanites would be interesting plot devices, but I can't think of where they show up besides in stories about the Borg.

Edit to add: This question focuses specifically on Wesley's nanites, not on other nanites. It does not ask if any Federation-made nanites show up in other episodes. It is kind of like asking what specifically happened to Data's cat, Spot, rather than asking if other episodes have cats. :-)

  • Borg nanites are a big plot device for the "Scorpion" story line in Star Trek: Voyager.
    – Jared
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 2:50
  • @Jared Oh, that's right. There are Borg nanites in afew Voyager stories. I'm going to modify the question to say I am asking about those made by Starfleet or the Federation. Thanks for the reminder.
    – RichS
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 3:07
  • 2
    I've retracted my close vote based on your edit. Your use of the definite article "the" in "Do the nanites ever show" led to my misunderstanding. Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 5:06
  • 1
    Nanites always participate in the plot of the story! You just can’t see them because they’re so small. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 10:42
  • 1
    Do you consider Lower Decks to be canon? I believe nanites appeared in a season 2 episode. But I wouldn't go check unless you are interested.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 10:38

2 Answers 2


Once, barely, sort of.

Excluding offhand references such as in Best of Both Worlds as you mentioned, I can find only one reference to nanites actually featuring in an episode. That is in the episode "Meld" from Star Trek Voyager, season 2. In this episode, Tuvok and The Doctor are investigating a murder and nanites play a key role in identifying the killer:

EMH: Do you see the DNA strands on the lower border?

TUVOK: Yes. They were retrieved from inside the head wound by nanites that I designed to recognise unusual DNA patterns. This DNA was isolated because it didn't belong to the victim.

Emphasis added.

The nanites themselves are never actually seen or depicted in the episode as far as I can tell, but they are present in the events (or so we're told) and do play a direct role in the story. Thanks to the nanite's DNA sleuthing, it is revealed that the murderer is

Crewman Lon Suder, an impulsively violent Betazoid from Chakotay's band of Maquis.

Also, I wish to clarify that the nanoscopic machines used by the Borg are correctly referred to as nanoprobes, not nanites.


Although they aren't Federation Starfleet nanites, the specific design used in "Evolution" shows up in the novel Dark Mirror on a mirror version of the Enterprise. Because Mirror Wesley is being groomed for security rather than the sciences, the experiment in "Evolution" was never carried out, so Picard is able to use the nanites to perform sabotage without any of the mirror crew knowing what's going on.

Dark Mirror isn't precisely canon nowadays; it predates the novels keeping to a strict canon in the first place, and its depiction of the Mirror Universe is contradicted by most subsequent material (although if you have one mirror universe, why not more?). However at the time it was considered a proper licensed Star Trek work.

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