Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is the major mechanism for eukaryotic plasma membrane-based proteome turn-over. In plants, clathrin-mediated endocytosis is essential for physiology and development, but the identification and organization of the machinery operating this process remains largely obscure. Here, we identified an eight-core-component protein complex, the TPLATE complex, essential for plant growth via its role as major adaptor module for clathrin-mediated endocytosis. This complex consists of evolutionarily unique proteins that associate closely with core endocytic elements. The TPLATE complex is recruited as dynamic foci at the plasma membrane preceding recruitment of adaptor protein complex 2, clathrin, and dynamin-related proteins. Reduced function of different complex components severely impaired internalization of assorted endocytic cargoes, demonstrating its pivotal role in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Taken together, the TPLATE complex is an early endocytic module representing a unique evolutionary plant adaptation of the canonical eukaryotic pathway for clathrin-mediated endocytosis.