Secondary transmembrane transport carriers fall into families and superfamilies allowing prediction of structure and function. Here we describe hundreds of sequenced homologues that belong to six families within a novel superfamily, the bile/arsenite/riboflavin transporter (BART) superfamily, of transport systems and putative signalling proteins. Functional data for members of three of these families are available, and they transport bile salts and other organic anions, the bile acid:Na(+) symporter (BASS) family, inorganic anions such as arsenite and antimonite, the arsenical resistance-3 (Acr3) family, and the riboflavin transporter (RFT) family. The first two of these families, as well as one more family with no functionally characterized members, exhibit a probable 10 transmembrane spanner (TMS) topology that arose from a tandemly duplicated 5 TMS unit. Members of the RFT family have a 5 TMS topology, and are homologous to each of the repeat units in the 10 TMS proteins. The other two families [sensor histidine kinase (SHK) and kinase/phosphatase/synthetase/hydrolase (KPSH)] have a single 5 TMS unit preceded by an N-terminal TMS and followed by a hydrophilic sensor histidine kinase domain (the SHK family) or catalytic domains resembling sensor kinase, phosphatase, cyclic di-GMP synthetase and cyclic di-GMP hydrolase catalytic domains, as well as various noncatalytic domains (the KPSH family). Because functional data are not available for members of the SHK and KPSH families, it is not known if the transporter domains retain transport activity or have evolved exclusive functions in molecular reception and signal transmission. This report presents characteristics of a unique protein superfamily and provides guides for future studies concerning structural, functional and mechanistic properties of its constituent members.