The secretory transport capacity of Giardia trophozoites is perfectly adapted to the changing environment in the small intestine of the host and is able to deploy essential protective surface coats as well as molecules which act on epithelia. These lumen-dwelling parasites take up nutrients by bulk endocytosis through peripheral vesicles or by receptor-mediated transport. The environmentally-resistant cyst form is quiescent but poised for activation following stomach passage. Its versatility and fidelity notwithstanding, the giardial trafficking systems appear to be the product of a general secondary reduction process geared towards minimization of all components and machineries identified to date. Since membrane transport is directly linked to organelle biogenesis and maintenance, less complexity also means loss of organelle structures and functions. A case in point is the Golgi apparatus which is missing as a steady-state organelle system. Only a few basic Golgi functions have been experimentally demonstrated in trophozoites undergoing encystation. Similarly, mitochondrial remnants have reached a terminally minimized state and appear to be functionally restricted to essential iron-sulfur protein maturation processes. Giardia's minimized organization combined with its genetic tractability provides unique opportunities to study basic principles of secretory transport in an uncluttered cellular environment. Not surprisingly, Giardia is gaining increasing attention as a model for the investigation of gene regulation, organelle biogenesis, and export of simple but highly protective cell wall biopolymers, a hallmark of all perorally transmitted protozoan and metazoan parasites.