Bacteriorhodopsin is the best understood ion transport protein and has become a paradigm for membrane proteins in general and transporters in particular. Models up to 2.5 A resolution of bacteriorhodopsin's structure have been published during the last three years and are basic for understanding its function. Thus one focus of this review is to summarize and to compare these models in detail. Another focus is to follow the protein through its catalytic cycle in summarizing more recent developments. We focus on literature published since 1995; a comprehensive series of reviews was published in 1995 (112).