The endolysosomal system of eukaryotic cells has a key role in the homeostasis of the plasma membrane, in signaling and nutrient uptake, and is abused by viruses and pathogens for entry. Endocytosis of plasma membrane proteins results in vesicles, which fuse with the early endosome. If destined for lysosomal degradation, these proteins are packaged into intraluminal vesicles, converting an early endosome to a late endosome, which finally fuses with the lysosome. Each of these organelles has a unique membrane surface composition, which can form segmented membrane microcompartments by membrane contact sites or fission proteins. Furthermore, these organelles are in continuous exchange due to fission and fusion events. The underlying machinery, which maintains organelle identity along the pathway, is regulated by signaling processes. Here, we will focus on the Rab5 and Rab7 GTPases of early and late endosomes. As molecular switches, Rabs depend on activating guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs). Over the last years, we characterized the Rab7 GEF, the Mon1-Ccz1 (MC1) complex, and key Rab7 effectors, the HOPS complex and retromer. Structural and functional analyses of these complexes lead to a molecular understanding of their function in the context of organelle biogenesis.