Selective trafficking of membrane proteins to lysosomes for destruction is required for proper cell signalling and metabolism. Ubiquitylation aids this process by specifying which proteins should be transported to the lysosome lumen by the multivesicular endosome pathway. The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery sorts cargo labelled with ubiquitin into invaginations of endosome membranes. Then, through a highly conserved mechanism also used in cytokinesis and viral budding, it mediates the breaking off of the cargo-containing intraluminal vesicles from the perimeter membrane. The involvement of the ESCRT machinery in suppressing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and infections underscores its importance to the cell.