Protists have evolved a myriad of highly specialized cytoskeletal organelles that expand known functional capacities of microtubule (MT) polymers. One such innovation - the ventral disc - is a cup-shaped MT organelle that the parasite Giardia uses to attach to the small intestine of its host. The molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of suction-based forces by overall conformational changes of the disc remain unclear. The elaborate disc architecture is defined by novel proteins and complexes that decorate almost all disc MT protofilaments, and vary in composition and conformation along the length of the MTs. Future genetic, biochemical, and functional analyses of disc-associated proteins will be central toward understanding not only disc architecture and assembly, but also the overall disc conformational dynamics that promote attachment.