Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is the endocytic portal into cells through which cargo is packaged into vesicles with the aid of a clathrin coat. It is fundamental to neurotransmission, signal transduction and the regulation of many plasma membrane activities and is thus essential to higher eukaryotic life. Morphological stages of vesicle formation are mirrored by progression through various protein modules (complexes). The process involves the formation of a putative FCH domain only (FCHO) initiation complex, which matures through adaptor protein 2 (AP2)-dependent cargo selection, and subsequent coat building, dynamin-mediated scission and finally auxilin- and heat shock cognate 70 (HSC70)-dependent uncoating. Some modules can be used in other pathways, and additions or substitutions confer cell specificity and adaptability.