© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. The eukaryotic cell is defined by compartments that allow specialization of function. This compartmental structure generates a new concept in cell biology compared with the simpler prokaryotic cell structure, namely the specific targeting of proteins to intracellular compartments. Protein targeting is achieved by the action of specialized signals on proteins destined for organelles that are recognized by cognate receptors. An understanding of the specificity of targeting signal recognition leading to import requires an understanding of the receptor structures. Here, we focus on the structures of receptors of different import machineries located on the outer membrane of three organelles: peroxisomes, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. This review provides an overview of the structural features of outer membrane import receptors that recognize targeting signals. Finally, we briefly discuss combinatorial approaches that might aid in understanding the structural factors mediating receptor targeting signal recognition.