The secretory pathway is of vital importance for eukaryotic cells and has a pivotal role in the synthesis, sorting, processing and secretion of a large variety of bioactive molecules involved in intercellular communication. One of the key processes in the secretory pathway concerns the transport of cargo proteins from the ER (endoplasmic reticulum) to the Golgi. Type-I transmembrane proteins of approximately 24 kDa are abundantly present in the membranes of the early secretory pathway, and bind the COPI and COPII coat complexes that cover vesicles travelling between the membranes. These p24 proteins are thought to play an important role in the selective transport processes at the ER-Golgi interface, although their exact functioning is still obscure. One model proposes that p24 proteins couple cargo selection in the lumen with vesicle coat recruitment in the cytosol. Alternatively, p24 proteins may furnish subcompartments of the secretory pathway with the correct subsets of machinery proteins. Here we review the current knowledge of the p24 proteins and the various roles proposed for the p24 family members.