Macromolecular complexes are essential to conserved biological processes, but their prevalence across animals is unclear. By combining extensive biochemical fractionation with quantitative mass spectrometry, here we directly examined the composition of soluble multiprotein complexes among diverse metazoan models. Using an integrative approach, we generated a draft conservation map consisting of more than one million putative high-confidence co-complex interactions for species with fully sequenced genomes that encompasses functional modules present broadly across all extant animals. Clustering reveals a spectrum of conservation, ranging from ancient eukaryotic assemblies that have probably served cellular housekeeping roles for at least one billion years, ancestral complexes that have accrued contemporary components, and rarer metazoan innovations linked to multicellularity. We validated these projections by independent co-fractionation experiments in evolutionarily distant species, affinity purification and functional analyses. The comprehensiveness, centrality and modularity of these reconstructed interactomes reflect their fundamental mechanistic importance and adaptive value to animal cell systems.