One of the strategies used by Gram-negative bacteria to secrete proteins across the two membranes which delimit the cells, is sec independent and dedicated to proteins lacking an N-terminal signal peptide. It depends on ABC protein-mediated exporters, which consist of three cell envelope proteins, two inner membrane proteins, an ATPase (the ABC protein), a membrane fusion protein (MFP) and an outer membrane polypeptide. Erwinia chrysanthemi metalloproteases B and C and Serratia marcescens hemoprotein HasA are secreted by such homologous pathways and interact with the ABC protein. Using as protein substrates HasA and GST-PrtC, a chimeric protein which has a glutathione S-transferase moiety fused to a large C-terminal domain of protease C, we developed a simple system to identify proteins bound to the substrate based on substrate affinity-chromatography using heme- or glutathione-agarose. We show an ordered association between the protein substrates and the three exporter components: the substrate recognizes the ABC protein which interacts with the MFP which in turn binds the outer membrane component. Substrate binding is required for assembly of the three components.