Membrane fusion occurs as part of processes as different as synaptic neurotransmitter transmission and infection with influenza virus. Recent evidence paints a picture in which the organization of proteins into a macromolecular scaffold brings the two fusing membranes together and induces hemifusion, that is, the fusion of the apposing leaflets of the two membranes to form a common bilayer. A small dynamic fusion pore forms in the common bilayer and usually expands to allow complete membrane merging. The mechanisms of fusion appear to be remarkably similar in exocytosis and virus-induced fusion. During exocytotic fusion, there is an additional twist to the mechanism, as sometimes the fusion pores close after release of small non-quantal amounts of secretory products.