Tetrahymena thermophila, a member of the Ciliates, represents a class of organisms distantly related from commonly used model organisms in cell biology, and thus offers an opportunity to explore potentially novel mechanisms and their evolution. Ciliates, like all eukaryotes, possess a complex network of organelles that facilitate both macromolecular uptake and secretion. The underlying endocytic and exocytic pathways are key mediators of a cell's interaction with its environment, and may therefore show niche-specific adaptations. Our laboratory has taken a variety of approaches to identify key molecular determinants for membrane trafficking pathways in Tetrahymena. Studies of Rab GTPases, dynamins, and sortilin-family receptors substantiate the widespread conservation of some features but also uncover surprising roles for lineage-restricted innovation. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 322B: 500–516, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.