Endocytic recycling returns proteins to the plasma membrane in many physiological contexts. Studies of these events have helped to elucidate fundamental mechanisms that underlie recycling. Recycling was for some time considered to be the exception to a general mechanism of active cargo sorting in multiple intracellular pathways. In recent years, studies have begun to reconcile this seeming disparity and also suggest explanations for why early recycling studies did not detect active sorting. Further articulation of this emerging trend has far-reaching implications for a deeper understanding of many physiological and pathological events that require recycling.