Specific interactions between lipids and membrane proteins have been observed in recent high-resolution crystal structures of membrane proteins. A number of cytochrome oxidase structures were analyzed, along with many amino acid sequences of membrane-spanning regions aligned according to their location in the membrane. The results reveal conservation of lipid-binding sites and of the residues that form them. These studies imply that bound lipids have important roles that are crucial to the assembly, structure, or activity of the protein. Evidence for some of these roles in subunit interactions, membrane insertion, and protein-protein complex formation is reviewed.