Exocytosis is the primary means of cellular secretion. Because exocytosis involves fusion between the plasma membrane and the membrane of secretory vesicles, it is likely that proteins on these two membranes, as well as additional proteins in cellular cytoplasm, mediate exocytosis. Although we know much about the proteins of secretory cells, we still have much to learn about how these proteins participate in exocytosis; in no case has an unambiguous exocytotic function been assigned to any of these proteins. To identify the roles of proteins in exocytosis it is necessary to perturb protein function in living secretory cells. We review a number of perturbation strategies and summarize what this approach has taught us about the functional roles of proteins in exocytosis, concluding with a molecular model of protein dynamics during exocytosis.