This review focuses on a novel, evolutionarily conserved mediator of membrane protein assembly in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts. This factor is designated YidC in Escherichia coli, and is localized in the inner membrane. YidC is homologous to Oxa1p in the mitochondrial inner membrane and Alb3 in the chloroplast thylakoid membrane, but does not seem to have a homologue in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. It has been suggested that YidC operates both as a separate unit and in connection with the SecYEG-translocon depending on the substrate membrane protein that is integrated into the membrane. Mitochondria do not possess a SecYEG-like complex and Oxa1p is thought to form, or to contribute to the formation of, a novel translocon in the mitochondrial inner membrane. Alb3 in the chloroplast thylakoid membrane is, just like YidC and Oxa1p, involved in membrane protein assembly, but only few details are known.