Many proteins in the cell require assistance from molecular chaperones at stages in their life cycles in order to attain correctly folded states and functional conformations during protein synthesis or during recovery from denatured states. A recently discovered molecular chaperone, which is abundant in the eukaryotic cytosol and is called the chaperonin containing TCP-1 (CCT), has been shown to assist the folding of some proteins in cytosol. This chaperone is a member of the chaperonin family which includes GroEL, 60-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp60), Rubisco subunit binding protein (RBP) and thermophilic factor 55 (TF55), but is distinct from the other members in several respects. Presently the most intriguing feature is the hetero-oligomeric nature of the CCT; at least eight subunit species which are encoded by independent and highly diverged genes are known. These genes are calculated to have diverged around the starting point of the eukaryotic lineage and they are maintained in all eukaryotes investigated, suggesting a specific function for each subunit species. The amino acid sequences of these subunits share approximately 30% identity and have some highly conserved motifs probably responsible for ATPase function, suggesting this function is common to all subunits. Thus, each subunit is thought to have both specific and common functions. These observations, in conjunction with biochemical and genetic analysis, suggest that CCT functions as a very complex machinery for protein folding in the eukaryotic cell and that its chaperone activity may be essential for the folding and assembly of various newly synthesized polypeptides. This complex behaviour of CCT may have evolved to cope with the folding and assembly of certain highly evolved proteins in eukaryotic cells.