Cells are metastable per se and a fine-tuned balance of de novo protein synthesis and degradation shapes their proteome. The primary function of peptides is to supply amino acids for de novo protein synthesis or as an energy source during starvation. Peptides are intrinsically short-lived and steadily trimmed by an armada of intra and extracellular peptidases. However, peptides acquired additional, more sophisticated tasks already early in evolution. Here, we summarize current knowledge on intracellular peptide trafficking and translocation mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transport machineries with a focus on the functions of protein degradation products as important signaling molecules in self-defense mechanisms.