Microorganisms encode several classes of transmembrane molecular pumps that can expel a wide range of chemically distinct toxic substances. These machines contribute to the capacity of the organisms to withstand harsh environments, and they help to confer resistance against clinical antimicrobial agents. In Gram-negative bacteria, some of the pumps comprise tripartite assemblies that actively transport drugs and other harmful compounds across the cell envelope. We describe recent structural and functional data that have provided insights into the architecture and transport mechanism of the AcrA-AcrB-TolC pump of Escherichia coli. This multidrug efflux pump is powered by proton electrochemical gradients through the activity of AcrB, a member of the resistance/nodulation/cell division (RND) transporter family. Crystallographic data reveal how the small protein AcrZ binds to AcrB in a concave surface of the transmembrane domain, and we discuss how this interaction may affect the efflux activities of the transporter.