Type-IV pilus expression plays a critical role in the interactions between Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Neisseria meningitidis and their human host. We have focused on experiments designed to elucidate the mechanisms of organelle biogenesis as one means of understanding the complexities of pilus biology in these species. Employing a variety of approaches, genes and gene products essential to pilus biogenesis have been identified and characterized. The findings indicate that the neisserial type-IV pilus biogenesis machinery is most closely related to that operating in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other pseudomonad species. This interrelatedness is documented at the levels of gene organization, DNA homologies and identities between the primary structures of the components. Despite these similarities, the biological correlates of pilus expression in the pathogenic Neisseria are quite unique. The current status of our embryonic understanding of the factors influencing organelle biogenesis is presented. In the context of this workshop, emphasis has been placed on specific contributions made through studies of gonococci and meningococci to the field as a whole..