The complement system is an important part of the innate immune system, mediating several major effector functions and modulating adaptive immune responses. Three complement activation pathways exist: the classical pathway (CP), the alternative pathway (AP), and the lectin pathway (LP). The LP is the most recently discovered, and least characterized. The CP and the LP are generally viewed as working through the generation of the C3 convertase, C4bC2b, and are here referred to as the "standard" pathways. In addition to the standard CP and LP, so-called bypass pathways have also been reported, allowing C3 activation in the absence of components otherwise believed critical. The classical bypass pathways are dependent on C1 and components of the AP. A recent study has shown the existence also of a lectin bypass pathway dependent on mannan-binding lectin (MBL) and AP components. The emerging picture of the complement system is more that of a small "scale-free" network where C3 acts as the main hub, than that of three linear pathways converging in a common terminal pathway.