The acquisitions of mitochondria and plastids were important events in the evolution of the eukaryotic cell, supplying it with compartmentalized bioenergetic and biosynthetic factories. Ancient invasions by eubacteria through symbiosis more than a billion years ago initiated these processes. Advances in geochemistry, molecular phylogeny, and cell biology have offered insight into complex molecular events that drove the evolution of endosymbionts into contemporary organelles. In losing their autonomy, endosymbionts lost the bulk of their genomes, necessitating the evolution of elaborate mechanisms for organelle biogenesis and metabolite exchange. In the process, symbionts acquired many host-derived properties, lost much of their eubacterial identity, and were transformed into extraordinarily diverse organelles that reveal complex histories that we are only beginning to decipher.