Type IV pilus (T4P)-like systems have been identified in almost every major phylum of prokaryotic life. They include the type IVa pilus (T4aP), type II secretion system (T2SS), type IVb pilus (T4bP), Tad/Flp pilus, Com pilus, and archaeal flagellum (archaellum). These systems are used for adhesion, natural competence, phage adsorption, folded-protein secretion, surface sensing, swimming motility, and twitching motility. The T4aP allows for all of these functions except swimming and is therefore a good model system for understanding T4P-like systems. Recent structural analyses have revolutionized our understanding of how the T4aP machinery assembles and functions. Here we review the structure and function of the T4aP.