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Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) form the site for entry and exit from the nucleus. A convergence of studies have defined the physical framework for the nuclear transport mechanism. This includes definition of the soluble transport machinery required for protein and RNA movement, x-ray structure analysis of transport factors, definitive compositional analysis of yeast NPCs, and documentation of the relative steady state arrangement of NPC components within the portal. With this information, researchers are now in the exciting position to examine the dynamic interplay between shuttling transport factors and the static pore complex.