The cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria consists of two membranes separated by the periplasm. In contrast with most integral membrane proteins, which span the membrane in the form of hydrophobic alpha-helices, integral outer-membrane proteins (OMPs) form beta-barrels. Similar beta-barrel proteins are found in the outer membranes of mitochondria and chloroplasts, probably reflecting the endosymbiont origin of these eukaryotic cell organelles. How these beta-barrel proteins are assembled into the outer membrane has remained enigmatic for a long time. In recent years, much progress has been reached in this field by the identification of the components of the OMP assembly machinery. The central component of this machinery, called Omp85 or BamA, is an essential and highly conserved bacterial protein that recognizes a signature sequence at the C terminus of its substrate OMPs. A homologue of this protein is also found in mitochondria, where it is required for the assembly of beta-barrel proteins into the outer membrane as well. Although accessory components of the machineries are different between bacteria and mitochondria, a mitochondrial beta-barrel OMP can be assembled into the bacterial outer membrane and, vice versa, bacterial OMPs expressed in yeast are assembled into the mitochondrial outer membrane. These observations indicate that the basic mechanism of OMP assembly is evolutionarily highly conserved.