NSF (N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor) and its yeast counterpart Sec18 are highly conserved homohexameric proteins that play vital roles in eukaryotic membrane trafficking. Sec18 functions by disrupting SNARE complexes formed in cis, on the same membrane. However, the molecular mechanisms of this process are poorly understood, in large part due to the lack of selective, reversible inhibitors. A new study by Sparks et al. now reports a small molecule that appears to selectively inhibit Sec18 action in an in vitro assay. Their finding now paves the way to elucidate further details of Sec18-mediated SNARE priming. © 2019 Abeliovich.