We describe the binding of proteins to lipid bilayers in the case for which binding can occur either by adsorption to the lipid bilayer membrane--water interface or by direct insertion into the bilayer itself. We examine in particular the case when the insertion and pore formation are driven by the adsorption process using scaled particle theory. The adsorbed proteins form a two-dimensional `surface gas' at the lipid bilayer membrane-water interface that exerts a lateral pressure on the lipid bilayer membrane. Under conditions of strong intrinsic binding and a high degree of interfacial coverage, this pressure can become high enough to overcome the energy barrier for protein insertion. Under these conditions a subtle equilibrium exists between the adsorbed and inserted proteins. We propose that this provides a control mechanism for reversible insertion and pore formation of proteins such as melittin and magainin. Next we discuss experimental data for the binding isotherms of cytochrome c to charged lipid membranes in the light of our theory and predict that cytochrome c inserts into charged lipid bilayers at low ionic strength. This prediction is supported by titration calorimetry results which are reported here. We were furthermore able to describe the observed binding isotherms of the pore forming peptides endotoxin alpha 5-helix and of pardaxin to zwitterionic vesicles from our theory by assuming adsorption/insertion equilibrium.