The IkappaB kinases (IKKs) IKK-alpha and IKK-beta, and the IKK-related kinases TBK1 and IKK-epsilon, have essential roles in innate immunity through signal-induced activation of NF-kappaB, IRF3 and IRF7, respectively. Although the signaling events within these pathways have been extensively studied, the mechanisms of IKK and IKK-related complex assembly and activation remain poorly defined. Recent data provide insight into the requirement for scaffold proteins in complex assembly; NF-kappaB essential modulator coordinates some IKK complexes, whereas TANK, NF-kappaB-activating kinase-associated protein 1 (NAP1) or similar to NAP1 TBK1 adaptor (SINTBAD) assemble TBK1 and IKK-epsilon complexes. The different scaffold proteins undergo similar post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation and non-degradative polyubiquitylation. Moreover, increasing evidence indicates that distinct scaffold proteins assemble IKK, and potentially TBK1 and IKK-epsilon subcomplexes, in a stimulus-specific manner, which might be a mechanism to achieve specificity.