Membrane trafficking involves the collection of cargo into nascent transport vesicles that bud off from a donor compartment, translocate along cytoskeletal tracks, and then dock and fuse with their target membranes. Docking and fusion involve initial interaction at a distance (tethering), followed by a closer interaction that leads to pairing of vesicle SNARE proteins (v-SNAREs) with target membrane SNAREs (t-SNAREs), thereby catalyzing vesicle fusion. When tethering cannot take place, transport vesicles accumulate in the cytoplasm. Tethering is generally carried out by two broad classes of molecules: extended, coiled-coil proteins such as the so-called Golgin proteins, or multi-subunit complexes such as the Exocyst, COG or Dsl complexes. This review will focus on the most recent advances in terms of our understanding of the mechanism by which tethers carry out their roles, and new structural insights into tethering complex transactions.