Biogenesis of the cytochrome oxidase complex in the mitochondrial inner membrane depends on the concerted action of a variety of proteins. Recent studies shed light on this biological assembly process revealing an astonishingly complex procedure by which the different subunits of the enzymes are put together and the required cofactors are supplied. In this review we present a hypothetical model for the assembly process of cytochrome oxidase based on the current knowledge of the functions of specific assembly factors. According to this model the two largest subunits of the complex are first equipped with their respective cofactors on independent assembly lines. Prior to their assembly with the residual subunits that complete the whole complex, these two subcomplexes remain bound to substrate-specific chaperones. We propose that these chaperones, Mss51 for subunit 1 and Cox20 for subunit 2, control the coordinate assembly process to prevent potentially harmful redox reactions of unassembled or misassembled subunits.