Group I and group II introns catalyse their own splicing, but depend on protein factors for efficient splicing in vivo. Some of these proteins, termed maturases, are encoded by the introns themselves and may also function in intron mobility. Other proteins are encoded by host chromosomal genes and include aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and various proteins that function in protein synthesis. The splicing factors identified thus far appear to be idiosyncratic, even in closely related organisms. We suggest that some of these protein-assisted splicing reactions evolved relatively recently, possibly reflecting the recent dispersal of the introns themselves.