Molecules are transferred to lysosomes, the major, acid pH, digestive compartment in eukaryotic cells, by a complex series of pathways that converge at a late endosome/prelysosomal compartment. Here, we discuss the relationship between this compartment and the lysosome. We propose that lysosomes are maintained within cells by a repeated series of kiss and run, transient fusion and fission processes with the late endosome/prelysosome compartment. Directionality to these processes may be conferred by pH gradients and retrieval mechanisms. The future challenge in testing this and any other proposed hypothesis for lysosomal biogenesis will be the establishment of molecular mechanisms.