The actin-related proteins (Arps) constitute a recently characterized family of proteins, many of which function as members of multiprotein complexes. The discovery that two family members, Arp2 and Arp3, act as multifunctional organizers of actin filaments in all eukaryotes has generated much excitement. Over the past two years, newly discovered properties of the Arp2/3 complex have suggested a central role in the control of actin polymerization. First, it promotes actin assembly on the surface of the motile intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Second, it can nucleate and cross-link actin filaments in vitro. Third, it localizes with dynamic actin-rich spots of mammalian cells suggesting a role in protrusion; it is found in cortical actin patches in the budding and fission yeasts where it may control patch movement and cortical actin function. Clearly, the complex has a central role in actin cytoskeletal function and will be the subject of much research in the coming years.