It is generally accepted that the initiation of translation in eukaryotes involves the binding of the 40S ribosomal subunit to the capped 5' end of an mRNA and subsequent scanning of 5' UTR in search of an initiation codon. However, until recently this has remained a mere hypothesis. This review describes the novel experimental evidence in support of this classical model. Data on the participation of various factors in the eukaryotic initiation process are summarized. The sequence of initiation events is described in light of the latest experimental data. The existing physical models of scanning are presented. Special attention is paid to discussion of alternative models of eukaryotic initiation of translation. It is demonstrated that the canonical mechanism of initiation is more versatile than previously thought.