The maltose/maltodextrin transport system of Escherichia coli/Salmonella, composed of periplasmic maltose-binding protein, MalE, the pore-forming subunits MalF and MalG, and a homodimer of the nucleotide-binding subunit, MalK, serves as a model for canonical ATP-binding cassette importers in general. The wealth of knowledge accumulated on the maltose transporter in more than three decades by genetic, molecular genetic and biochemical means was complemented more recently by crystal structures of the isolated MalK dimer and of two conformational states of the full transporter. Here, we summarize insights into the transport mechanism provided by these structures and draw the reader's attention to experimental tools by which the dynamics of the transporter can be studied during substrate translocation. A transport model is presented that integrates currently available biochemical, biophysical and structural data. We also present the state of knowledge on regulatory functions of the maltose transporter associated with the C-terminal domain of MalK. Finally, we will address the application of coarse-grained modelling to visualize the progression of the conformational changes of an ABC transporter with special emphasis on the maltose system, which can provide a model platform for testing and validating the bioinformatic tools.