Whilst Na(+) has replaced H(+) as a major transport driving force at the plasma membrane of animal cells, the evolutionarily older H(+)-driven systems persist on endomembranes and at the plasma membrane of specialized cells. The first member of the SLC36 family, present in both intracellular and plasma membranes, was identified independently as a lysosomal amino acid transporter (LYAAT1) responsible for the export of lysosomal proteolysis products into the cytosol and as a proton/amino acid transporter (PAT1) responsible for the absorption of amino acids in the gut. In addition to LYAAT1/PAT1, the family comprises another characterized member, PAT2, and two orphan transporters. Both PAT1 and PAT2 mediate 1:1 symport of protons and small neutral amino acids such as glycine, alanine, and proline. Their mRNAs are broadly and differentially expressed in mammalian tissues. The PAT1 protein localizes to lysosomes in brain neurons, but is also found in the apical membrane of intestinal epithelial cells with a role in the absorption of amino acids from luminal protein digestion. In both cases, protons supplied by the lysosomal H(+)-ATPase or by the acidic microclimate of the brush border membrane drive transport of the amino acids into the cytosol. The subcellular localization and physiological role of PAT2 have still to be determined. SLC36 transporters are related distantly to other proton-coupled amino acid transporters, such as the vesicular neurotransmitter transporter VIAAT/VGAT (SLC32) and system N transporters (SLC38 family).