Chloroplasts are the organelles that define plants, and they are responsible for photosynthesis as well as numerous other functions. They are the ancestral members of a family of organelles known as plastids. Plastids are remarkably dynamic, existing in strikingly different forms that interconvert in response to developmental or environmental cues. The genetic system of this organelle and its coordination with the nucleocytosolic system, the import and routing of nucleus-encoded proteins, as well as organellar division all contribute to the biogenesis and homeostasis of plastids. They are controlled by the ubiquitin-proteasome system, which is part of a network of regulatory mechanisms that integrate plastid development into broader programmes of cellular and organismal development.