Several approaches are currently being taken to elucidate the mechanisms and the molecular components responsible for protein targeting to and translocation across the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum. Two experimental systems dominate the field: a biochemical system derived from mammalian exocrine pancreas, and a combined genetic and biochemical system employing the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Results obtained in each of these systems have contributed novel, mostly non-overlapping information. Recently, much effort in the field has been dedicated to identifying membrane proteins that comprise the translocon. Membrane proteins involved in translocation have been identified both in the mammalian system, using a combination of crosslinking and reconstitution approaches, and in S. cerevisiae, by selecting for mutants in the translocation pathway. None of the membrane proteins isolated, however, appears to be homologous between the two experimental systems. In the case of the signal recognition particle, the two systems have converged, which has led to a better understanding of how proteins are targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane.