The Omp85 family of proteins has been found in all Gram-negative bacteria and even several eukaryotic organisms. The previously uncharacterized Escherichia coli member of this family is YaeT. The results of this study, consistent with previous Omp85 studies, show that the yaeT gene encodes for an essential cellular function. Direct examinations of the outer membrane fraction and protein assembly revealed that cells depleted for YaeT are severely defective in the biogenesis of outer membrane proteins (OMPs). Interestingly, assemblies of the two distinct groups of OMPs that follow either SurA- and lipopolysaccharide-dependent (OmpF/C) or -independent (TolC) folding pathways were affected, suggesting that YaeT may act as a general OMP assembly factor. Depletion of cells for YaeT led to the accumulation of OMPs in the fraction enriched for periplasm, thus indicating that YaeT facilitates the insertion of soluble assembly intermediates from the periplasm to the outer membrane. Our data suggest that YaeT's role in the assembly of OMPs is not mediated through a role in lipid biogenesis, as debated for Omp85 in Neisseria, thus advocating a conserved OMP assembly function of Omp85 homologues.