Regulated secretion of hormones occurs when a cell receives an external stimulus, triggering the secretory granules to undergo fusion with the plasma membrane and release their content into the extracellular milieu. The formation of a mature secretory granule (MSG) involves a series of discrete and unique events such as protein sorting, formation of immature secretory granules (ISGs), prohormone processing and vesicle fusion. Regulated secretory proteins (RSPs), the proteins stored and secreted from MSGs, contain signals or domains to direct them into the regulated secretory pathway. Recent data on the role of specific domains in RSPs involved in sorting and aggregation suggest that the cell-type-specific composition of RSPs in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) has an important role in determining how the RSPs get into ISGs. The realization that lipid rafts are implicated in sorting RSPs in the TGN and the identification of SNARE molecules represent further major advances in our understanding of how MSGs are formed. At the heart of these findings is the elucidation of molecular mechanisms driving protein--lipid and protein--protein interactions specific for secretory granule biogenesis.