Protein transport via the Sec translocon represents an evolutionary conserved mechanism for delivering cytosolically-synthesized proteins to extra-cytosolic compartments. The Sec translocon has a three-subunit core, termed Sec61 in Eukaryotes and SecYEG in Bacteria. It is located in the endoplasmic reticulum of Eukaryotes and in the cytoplasmic membrane of Bacteria where it constitutes a channel that can be activated by multiple partner proteins. These partner proteins determine the mechanism of polypeptide movement across the channel. During SRP-dependent co-translational targeting, the ribosome threads the nascent protein directly into the Sec channel. This pathway is in Bacteria mainly dedicated for membrane proteins but in Eukaryotes also employed by secretory proteins. The alternative pathway, leading to post-translational translocation across the Sec translocon engages an ATP-dependent pushing mechanism by the motor protein SecA in Bacteria and a ratcheting mechanism by the lumenal chaperone BiP in Eukaryotes. Protein transport and biogenesis is also assisted by additional proteins at the lateral gate of SecY/Sec61α and in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum or in the periplasm of bacterial cells. The modular assembly enables the Sec complex to transport a vast array of substrates. In this review we summarize recent biochemical and structural information on the prokaryotic and eukaryotic Sec translocons and we describe the remarkably complex interaction network of the Sec complexes.