The structure, function, and interactions of the central ESCRT machinery- that is, the portions conserved from yeast to humans and preserved between different human subunit isoforms- are now relatively well understood. The reason for the diversity of complexes in human cells-with in principle twelve ESCRT-III and sixteen ESCRT-I combinations possible- is only starting to be explored. Recent progress in visualizing ESCRT assemblies on membranes, reconstituting the ESCRT reaction in vitro, and analyzing the budding and scission mechanism computationally, have moved the field from hand-waving to a rough pictorial outline of the reaction with some biophysical understanding. The stage is now set for a deeper quantitative biophysical analysis of the mechanism. Connections between the ESCRTs and other major cellular machineries are only beginning to be understood. We have an initial view of how the ESCRTs could be linked the early endocytic apparatus and the cytoskeleton, but connections to other areas, such as the endosome-vacuole fusion machinery, need much more study. ESCRT-virus interaction may be appealing drug targets, but concerns about interference with normal physiological functions must be overcome. ESCRT dysfunction is linked to neurological diseases, but the mechanistic basis for the connection is largely a mystery. It is hoped that this review will serve as a one-stop sourcebook of information for newcomers who may go on to answer some of these questions.