Septins are polymerizing GTPases required for cytokinesis and cortical organization. The principles by which they are targeted to, and assemble at, specific cell regions are unknown. We show that septins in mammalian cells switch between a linear organization along actin bundles and cytoplasmic rings, approximately 0.6 microm in diameter. A recombinant septin complex self-assembles into rings resembling those in cells. Linear organization along actin bundles was reconstituted by adding an adaptor protein, anillin. Perturbation of septin organization in cells by expression of a septin-interacting fragment of anillin or by septin depletion via siRNA causes loss of actin bundles. We conclude that septins alone self-assemble into rings, that adaptor proteins recruit septins to actin bundles, and that septins help organize these bundles.