Small heat shock proteins (sHsps) are a family of ubiquitous intracellular molecular chaperones; some sHsp family members are upregulated under stress conditions and play a vital role in protein homeostasis (proteostasis). It is commonly accepted that these chaperones work by trapping misfolded proteins to prevent their aggregation; however, fundamental questions regarding the molecular mechanism by which sHsps interact with misfolded proteins remain unanswered. The dynamic and polydisperse nature of sHsp oligomers has made studying them challenging using traditional biochemical approaches. Therefore, we have utilized a single-molecule fluorescence-based approach to observe the chaperone action of human alphaB-crystallin (αBc, HSPB5). Using this approach we have, for the first time, determined the stoichiometries of complexes formed between αBc and a model client protein, chloride intracellular channel 1. By examining the dispersity and stoichiometries of these complexes over time, and in response to different concentrations of αBc, we have uncovered unique and important insights into a two-step mechanism by which αBc interacts with misfolded client proteins to prevent their aggregation.