The Apg12 system is one of the ubiquitin-like protein conjugation systems conserved in eukaryotes. It was first discovered in yeast during systematic analyses of the apg mutants defective in autophagy, which is the intracellular bulk degradation system. Covalent attachment of Apg12-Apg5 is essential for autophagy. Enzymes catalyzing this conjugation reaction were also identified based on the apg mutant analyses. These are Apg7 and Apg10, corresponding to E1 and E2 enzymes, respectively. Studies using mammalian cells further revealed the function of the Apg12 system. The Apg12-Apg5 conjugate localizes to elongating autophagic isolation membranes. Apg12 conjugation of Apg5 is required for elongation of the isolation membrane to form a complete spherical autophagosome. Discovery of the Apg12 system has facilitated our understanding of the molecular mechanism of autophagosome formation.